In Camden County, Pennsauken educators Melissa Savino, Valerie O’Brien, Susan BenAbdullah, Tara Barnstead, Diane Joyce, Rea Anderson, Buket Davis, Jane Campbell, Peggy Vance, Megan Irwin, and Michele Ransone were awarded a $8,500 grant to expand on the district’s existing Baby Project, which addresses the role of bilingualism in cognitive development.

Through the project, families are encouraged to promote their home-language and are provided with the books and materials to support their work at home. A translator is available at every meeting so that families are comfortable participating in Spanish. Five Baby Events will be held during the school year. Each event will have a curriculum that focuses on a critical skill young children need to learn to be prepared for language, literacy, and educational success.

A committee will meet bi-monthly to plan upcoming events. Each Baby Event will include three stations that run simultaneously: (1) Developmental Room for infants/toddlers (2) Parent Session, and (3) School-aged students participate in a related learning activity to participate in with their baby. At the end of the three stations, the families will come together to practice the new skills. The caregiver, student, and infant/toddler will read the new book together and use the materials. Each event will conclude with dinner together in the school cafeteria. This will be an important time for teachers and families to socialize and building a sense of community.

Both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected. Sign-in sheets will be used at each event. One committee member will work on maintaining a database of trends in family participation. This will be compared to attendance at other key school events to determine if engagement in the Baby Program improves participation at other school programs such as Back to School Night and Parent/Teacher Conferences.

The program will be presented at conferences to share the prototype for effective Family/School involvement that can be replicated in public school districts throughout New Jersey.

For more information, contact:

Melissa Savino, Project Coordinator
(856) 662-5751 (school)

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