Program Opens Doors for Hispanic Parents

The Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors program gives parents the skills to become their child’s first teacher.

This approach mirrors national efforts to improve family engagement, Abriendo Puertas national director Sandra Gutierrez says in the FINE Newsletter from the Harvard Family Research Project.

In the program, parents of children from newborns to age 5 meet for weekly group sessions in which they learn in Spanish and English about topics including the stages of child development, promoting literacy, and health and nutrition.

A survey of parent participants last year by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that they increased their knowledge of early learning and how to help their children be successful in school.

In the newsletter Gutierrez describes the program:

“Every week, Latino parents meet in a support-group setting to strengthen their capacity to be their children’s first and most influential teacher and to make their home their children’s first school, rich with everyday learning experiences. Discussion topics include goal setting, communication, ages and stages of development, promoting literacy, choosing preschool and health care services, nutrition, socioemotional wellness, and advocating for children, families, and communities. These group sessions include activities such as popular games like Abriendo Puertas Loteria (Bingo), as well as references to dichos, or cultural sayings, to reinforce key messages in ways that are engaging and relatable to families.”

She continues, “Parents’ confidence increases when they recognize the power they have as leaders of their families and the extent to which all of their daily decisions profoundly influence the arc of their children’s lives.”

Read more here.

Related Links:

– “Parents as Agents of Change,” Harvard Family Research Project.

– “Abriendo Puertas Program Gives Latino Parents a Boost,” Latino Ed Beat.

– Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors


“Abriendo Puertas” Program to Expand in Chicago

The “Abriendo Puertas” program aims to empower Hispanic parents to be their children’s first teacher. The initiative, which stands for “Opening Doors” in English, targets parents in Spanish who have children ages zero to five years old.

The Latino Policy Forum recently announced an effort to expand the program’s reach in the Chicago area. The Forum, which has offered the program since 2010, plans on training 1,000 parents in the region by the end of its third year. About 540 parents have been trained since its inception.

Nationally, the program has sites in 31 states serving more than 22,000 families. Parents learn in ten sessions about topics including nutrition, parents as advocates and communication.

The Forum has tracked the attitudes of participating parents. Among the findings:

  • About 22 percent of parents were not confident about teaching their children language before going through the program, compared with 83 percent afterwards.
  • About 18 percent of parents said they knew “little” to “nothing” about school expectations at first, compared with 74 percent after completing the program.
  • About 98.5 percent of the parents felt confident about teaching their children before they enter kindergarten, after completing the program. This included basic skills such as counting, learning colors and letters.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, surveyed hundreds of parent participants and found that they improved their knowledge about early learning and brain development , developing literacy and helping their children be successful at school. They also came away more confident about their parenting skills.

The Policy Forum will be offering a workshop on how to train parents from Nov. 26-28 in Chicago. The group expects 14 organizations that serve Latinos to attend, including schools districts and nonprofit groups.

Other programs focusing on Latino parents with similar parent involvement models include HIPPY and AVANCE.

Related Links:

– “Metro Chicago Latino Parent Leadership Program to Train 1,000 by End of its Third Year.” Latino Policy Forum.

– “Abriendo Puertas” Program Gives Latino Parents a Boost. Latino Ed Beat. 

– “Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors Network.” National Head Start Association. 

“Abriendo Puertas” Program Gives Latino Parents a Boost

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, highlights a program that is helping Latino parents to work with their young children to prepare them for school.

The study looks at the “Abriendo Puertas” parent program, which is being used by Head Start, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and is expanding nationally. It already has sites in 31 states serving 22,000 families. Many Hispanic children enter school already behind academically and developmentally, and the program aims to close those gaps.

Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors is taught in Spanish or English and is composed of ten sessions that focus on topics including early learning, communication, nutrition, parents as advocates and using the library. Participants are parents with children of ages zero through 5 years old.

Principal investigator Margaret Bridges of UC Berkeley said that the program has proved effective because the interactions parents have with their children at a young age determine how prepared they will be when they enter school.

The research was based on  a survey given to parents before and after completing the program, and was taken by 623 parents in 35 different programs. About 85 percent of parents surveyed were immigrants, mostly from Mexico.

A survey given to parents showed that they improved their knowledge about early learning and brain development. They also increased their knowledge about how to help their children be successful at school and how to develop literacy.

When parents were asked seven questions about how to help young children be successful in school about 12 percent of parents answered correctly before taking part in Abriendo Puertas, and 77 percent answered correctly after completing the program.

Parents also reported feeling much more confident about their parenting skills after taking part in the program.

“Parents have a real hunger for information that will enrich their parenting, and they have indicated that Abriendo Puertas has been an invaluable resource,” said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum, in the report. “Parents, organizations and schools have expressed tremendous gratitude for having this incredible program available in Spanish.”

Other programs with similar parent involvement efforts include HIPPY and AVANCE.

Related Links:

– “Survey shows program boosts Latino parents’ child knowledge, confidence.” UC Berkeley News Center.

– Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors Network. National Head Start Association.