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Students connect with parents

Posted: March 17, 2009 12:46 a.m.
Updated: March 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
"I love to read," said Luis Sebastion, a third-grader at Canyon Springs Elementary School.

"I love my family too, so reading with them was extra fun."

Students like 10-year-old Sebastion got the chance to read with their families during the Canyon Country school's Family Reading Night Feb. 26.

Teachers read to groups of 25 parents and students in different classrooms throughout the school. Close to 200 parents, siblings and friends gathered to listen to the stories and then read to one another in family groups.

"This is a wonderful way to enhance reading comprehension among the students as well as their parents," said Hanin Eid, a second-grade teacher at Canyon Springs.

"We want to show that there are many different strategies parents can use to read with their children and we want to help demonstrate that, so that their reading becomes even stronger."

The teachers wasted no time demonstrating how to tell a good story.

Rooms full of families sat in English- or Spanish-speaking classrooms listening to teachers who were animated and expressive during the readings.

"The teacher was a really good storyteller," said 7-year-old Kathia Ortiz, whose Spanish-speaking family was read a story and then given the opportunity to read to each other.

"It makes me want to do different voices and be good when I read to my mom."

After the teachers read, it was the students and parents turn to show their own story-telling skills.

Each family got to pick their own story from the bookshelf in the classroom and read it to each other. Parents read to their children and then the roles were reversed, with the children reading to their parents and siblings.

Ortiz said she rarely gets to spend time with her mother, who works to support the family.

"It felt really good to be with her that night at school," Ortiz said. "I got to have my mom read to me and then she got to hear me read. I don't get that a lot and I really liked it."

"It brings the family closer," Eid said. "You can see the positive effects just in the way they all listen together and then start to read to each other. I love being a part of it."

Each of the two reading nights that have occurred so far focused on a particular skill to make reading better.

The first official reading night last December encouraged readers to make connections to their own lives through what happens in the story. February's reading night was about visualization during the storytelling.

In April the school plans on putting on a Family Math Night due to the recent success of the reading nights and hopes this will further encourage a strong connection in families.

"We hope to see many more parents becoming involved in their childrens' lives," Assistant Principal Jane D'Anna said.

"Learning together can create a whole new world in connecting to each other, strengthening the individuals and the community as a whole."

"This is true, quality family time," said Darla Singer, a third-grade teacher at Canyon Springs.

"It also allows for parents to gain the knowledge of how to read better with their children, which will encourage better reading for the kids at school and throughout the rest of their lives."

D'Anna is proud of her school's efforts to bring families closer through reading time.

"This is about building a strong foundation for their futures," she said. "We strive towards a connected community, and we believe that by encouraging family time and good reading skills, we are helping to form the building blocks for a strong and promising tomorrow."

Marion Hamer, categorical programs administrator for the Sulphur Springs School District, considers the reading night an integral part of the district's plan to improve reading comprehension overall throughout the community.

Hamer encourages families to spend more time reading together to promote better communication between parents and their children.

"To read something together and then do projects about what they read will encourage a better comprehension and a stronger connection," she said.

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