It is widely recognized that families from historically underserved communities can sometimes experience linguistic or cultural challenges when sending their children to school. At Family Engagement Lab, we support families in bridging the learning between the classroom and home in a language they recognize. FASTalk is an SMS-based family engagement tool that gives families the foundation to implement actions at home that promote student achievement. The experiences that families have with FASTalk are valuable, and we’d like to share one of them with you.
Meet Esmeralda, a Guatemalan woman living in Louisiana with her husband and three children. As a former teacher in Guatemala, she values education and makes it a priority at home. Even so, as an immigrant mother, Esmeralda struggles with English and feels self-conscious about teaching her daughter, Daisy. In spite of these linguistic challenges, Esmeralda ensures that her daughter, who is in kindergarten, is in a literacy-rich environment. There are letters and posters on Daisy’s bedroom walls that help her practice naming the letters and letter sounds. When asked about how she views education, Esmeralda states: “Es primordial,” that is, education is essential. Because of her commitment to education, Esmeralda has integrated FASTalk’s tips into her daily interactions with Daisy. As a result, Esmeralda’s daughter has experienced academic gains inside of the classroom. Moreover, Esmeralda notices that her child's education is being prioritized at the school level and thus feels more connected to her daughter's education. When speaking with Family Engagement Lab, Esmeralda stated:
“Es bonito ver que los maestros de la escuela apoyan a mi hija, ya que yo no la puedo apoyar igual que ellos.”
“It's nice to see that the teachers at the school support my daughter in a way that I may not be able to.”
Esmeralda sees the positive impact Daisy’s teachers have on her daughter. With FASTalk bridging the academics inside of the classroom and at home, Esmeralda finds joy in being able to have conversations with Daisy about topics that are being covered at school!
The FASTalk family engagement tool introduces ideas to Esmeralda that she can use at home to support her child’s learning. For example, this past March, Esmeralda practiced breaking apart syllables with Daisy, which is a key skill kindergarten students develop to facilitate reading.
“Practicamos separando las sílabas en la palabra “yellow.” Al principio mi hija no pudo separar la palabra pero después de practicar, lo entendió más.”
“We practiced separating the syllables in the word "yellow." At first my daughter could not separate the word but after practicing she understood it better.”
Here, Esmeralda shares how the additional support that was prompted by a message tip from FASTalk helped her daughter practice separating syllables and grasp the concept even further. Esmeralda is a great example of how families can put FASTalk into practice. While FASTalk provides the tips needed to support student learning, it is the families that put in the work to ignite their students’ academic success. Way to go, Esmeralda and Daisy!
Esmeralda’s experience as an immigrant mother living in the United States highlights how intimidating it can be for families to feel invited into their child’s academic journey--especially when families experience language barriers. Nevertheless, through perseverance, motivation, and support from FASTalk, we are seeing that families like Esmeralda’s are boosting their children’s academic success. Family Engagement Lab is excited to continue partnering with families and highlighting their successes.
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