Reseda : Family Literacy Project Targets Parents, Kids

It’s a simple enough concept: Preschool children will learn better if their parents are both literate and enthusiastic about education.

Imelda Foley, principal of the Lemay Street Children’s Center, had a feeling this idea might work in practice too.

In September, with a $10,000 grant from the National Center for Family Literacy in hand, Foley launched the school’s Family Literacy Project, in which about 20 parents work on English as a second language or a Graduate Equivalency Diploma while 18 of their young children take early education classes.

The result is a lot of fun.


Every Monday through Friday, after a group breakfast and sharing time beginning at 8 a.m., the parents and children separate into two groups.

The 3- and 4-year-olds learn painting, crafts, shapes and colors from the child care center staff, while Linda Magallanes--on loan from Reseda Community Adult School--teaches adult education.

After a couple of hours, the groups rejoin for “parent and child time,” Magallanes explained.

That when parents and children synthesize what they’ve learned separately. Children learning about the food pyramid will work with parents studying nutrition as they cut photographs of food from magazines.

Both parents and children clearly enjoy themselves.

Teresa Ibarra wants her daughter, 4-year-old Karen, to reap the benefits of a multicultural education while she brushes up on English.

“It is very, very good, this program,” Ibarra said, watching Karen play Color and Shape Bingo and switch comfortably from one language to the other.

“She needs to speak not only Spanish, not only English, but more languages. It means a better job if she speaks more languages,” Ibarra said. And the classes are free.

With any luck, Foley expects more grant money so the center can continue and expand the Family Literacy Project.

“If kids start to learn to love learning early, that love can carry through their education,” Foley said. “And we know that parents play a key role in what children really embrace and what they work toward.”