More than letters and numbers
I.K. is a tiny, sweet and very smart girl. When she started participating in Colorful Hands, a kindergarten readiness program at Southwest Youth and Family Services’ New Futures site at Windsor Heights, she was quiet and would repeat every word that her teacher said. She was afraid to try anything new.
Every class she was frustrated almost to tears because she felt she couldn’t do the activities, asking, “Are you mad with me teacher?” Her teacher would answer, “No, I’m proud of you because you try hard.”
The teacher started working with her individually, holding her hands and helping her to finish any activity. One day in a parent meeting the teacher asked the students to write their names and I.K’s mother said, “She can’t do it. I’m going to do it for her.” The teacher responded, “Please, let her try.”
I.K. got right to work writing her name and when she was done, she yelled across the classroom “Teacher, I did it!” After this, in every activity I.K. changed her words. She said, “Teacher, I’m going to try harder.”
One morning her father told the teacher that I.K. had used the same words at the grocery store with her mother, who does not speak any English. I.K. said, “Mom, I’m proud of you because you try hard.”
Those words inspired the mother to participate in New Futures activities. She came to Mommy and Me, a learning together program, and the Friday summer reading program.
At the end of Colorful Hands, I.K. had learned the alphabet and could say it back and forward. She knew numbers, colors, shapes, and more. She is going to ECEAP next school year and will be more than ready for kindergarten.
“…My daughter is learning so much.”
The power of the Parent Child Home Program was clear in a recent home visit. The two-year-old girl’s vocabulary and expression had blossomed over the year – she had started the program with very little word or pattern recognition. At this visit, the visitor brought a set of nesting blocks highlighting colors, animals, numbers and shapes, and both the mother and visitor were caught by surprise when the little girl recognized and verbally identified the triangle clearly on her own with no prompt at all. After a bit of a celebration, the mother shared, “This program is great. Before I didn’t take time to sit down and play with my children. Now I make time and my daughter is learning so much.”
This year middle and high schoolers from all three New Futures sites participated in a series of Science Nights (Noches de Ciencias) hosted by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. They created nearly unsinkable aluminum foil boats, built towers of spaghetti and marshmallows (including modeling one after the Eiffel Tower), extracted strawberry DNA, played with electricity and magnetism, and so much more! It is incredible to witness their enthusiasm for engineering and science. We are thankful to have SHPE as a community partner to help us keep our youth engaged in STEM and thinking about fascinating potential careers.