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.