Family Literacy Feature: ELL MOMS in Drayton Valley

Posted: 4 April 2018

Author: Amanda Giang, Advanced Education

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Strengthening Family Literacy

In this week’s “Strengthening Family Literacy” feature blog, Tanya Harding shares about the ELL MOMS program at Drayton Valley & District Community Learning Association. We asked her to answer a few questions about their program, how it works, and how they know it is making a difference. Tanya is the Adult Literacy Coordinator at Drayton Valley & District Community Learning Association.

Describe your Family Literacy program.

ELL MOMS is a program that we are currently running in partnership with our local McMan Parent Link Centre, who provides the space for the program. The Centre is equipped with an open area, which is well organized into sections, including a kitchen with tables and chairs for snack and craft time, play equipment for play time and a mat surrounded by chairs for story, song, rhyme and reading time. Parents/ guardians and their children aged 0-6 spend the first hour of the program in this open area. Two facilitators lead the group in theme-based discussions, songs, rhymes and stories, using resources from Rhymes that Bind and Magic Carpet Ride. Topics include various holidays and traditions, numbers, colours, shapes, weather, growth and development (physical, social, emotional), nutrition, and family life (structure, roles and responsibilities). Facilitators introduce vocabulary within these topics through conversation, stories, rhymes and songs and encourage our English Language Learners to use the rhymes and songs at home to incorporate and further solidify these terms into their everyday language use and conversation.

Attached to the main open area is an additional room with tables, chairs and a whiteboard, where parents/ guardians spend the second hour of the program with a certified TESL instructor learning English while the children are supervised by facilitators and engaged in learning activities such as crafts. The instructor leads parents/ guardians in a class designed to complement the topics in the first hour of programming, such as those mentioned above, as well as topics relating to health and safety, jobs and employment, and household budgeting and shopping. The instructor uses learning resources from the LINC Parenting Program, as well as Oxford’s Step Forward curriculum and the ESL Library.

ELL MOMs runs for approximately 30 weeks in two sessions – from October to December and then from January to May. We take a break during Christmas and Easter/Spring Break.

Why did you choose to base your Family Literacy program on these Family Literacy models?

The program utilizes elements from both Rhymes that Bind and Magic Carpet Ride. Using both models allows facilitators to incorporate both rhymes and songs into a greater variety of learning activities that the parents/ guardians and their children can transfer into their daily conversations and activities.

How does your Family Literacy program identify adult foundational learner needs and support them to build those foundational skills?

Our program facilitators and the ELL instructor have conversations with the adults about struggles they encounter in their daily life, whether it’s with parenting skills, personal finances, health and wellness, work, etc. The instructor will ask questions about specific tasks that may be a source of the difficulties they are experiencing, such as filling out forms or communication skills and will provide assistance with strategies to overcome these struggles. If the instructor or facilitators determine that the learner requires further resources, they will discuss this with the Coordinators who will then provide additional resources or contact the learner to discuss other programs within or outside our organization from which they may benefit.

How does your organization help Family Literacy learners transition to further learning?

If the facilitators and/or the instructor feel that the parents/ guardians would benefit from other programs offered either within or outside of our organization, they inform the Program Coordinator who would then contact the learner to discuss possible enrolment in one of our programs or referral out. Learners also fill out an evaluation form at the end of each session, which asks learners whether they would like to be contacted about future programming and whether there are specific learning opportunities they would be interested in pursuing. Coordinators follow up with these learners to discuss further learning opportunities either within and/or outside of our organization. If it is determined that the learner will enrol in a class, learning activity or tutoring within our organization, the Coordinator will follow up with the learner regarding progress during and after session completion. If it is determined by the learner and Coordinator that multiple learning activities and/or courses are required to meet the learner’s learning and/or employment goals, we would meet to discuss a learning plan. The learning plan would include long and short term goals as well as specific tasks and activities that support the attainment thereof, and timelines, if applicable. The Coordinator follows up with the learner and instructor, facilitator or tutor to monitor progress periodically and adjusts the learning and/ or employment plan if necessary.

How do you know that Family Literacy has been effective in achieving LFL outcomes?

The facilitators as well as the instructor provide feedback to both the Family and Adult Literacy Coordinators periodically throughout the program. Coordinators follow up with the learners after they have completed program evaluations to determine whether the learners have met their learning objectives. Appropriate assessments are conducted if and/or when necessary.

Tanya Harding, Adult Literacy Coordinator
Drayton Valley and District Community Learning Association

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