The project name, Comienza en Casa | It Starts at Home, was suggested by one of the parents involved during the first year of the project, 2012. The first year, there were many logistics to figure out related to the various components of the program. Initially, units were two weeks long, the home visitor would visit with families every two weeks, and there were no evening meetings. The focus was on working with families to support their child’s early literacy development and develop school readiness skills while becoming familiar with iPad use and the importance of dual language learning, reading and having conversations in their home language. At that time, there were not many ebook apps available in Spanish, so written translations in Spanish were provided later in the spring.
As part of our third module in Spring 2012, “Growing Things”, we all went on a field trip to a local farm (every child in the project milked a cow!) A list of the children’s questions about farms were gathered and consulted during the trip. After visiting the farm, children created stories about the trip and what they learned. One child was inspired by feeding sheep and created this digital story:
Below are more photos of the popular farm field trip:
Before taking a break for the summer, each family worked with Ana to develop a personalized learning module for their child. Parents identified a learning goal and a high interest topic for their child, and used this information and the READ, PLAY, CREATE framework to plan activities they would do together. The final module didn’t introduce any new material on the iPad, making it easier to transition into the summer when iPads would not be available or were being used for other Mano en Mano programming.
Resources from Spring 2012 Pilot Project:
- Comienza en Casa | It Starts at Home: Program Components Image Map
- Comienza en Casa| It Starts at Home: Activities (and Apps) Overview
- Comienza en Casa | It Starts at Home: Activity Sheet Sample (Growing Things 2)
- Finding, Selecting and Purchasing Apps on a Limited Budget (Includes App list)
While the overall framework of program components remained the same (READ, PLAY, CREATE, and so on), changes in the fall included:
- Learning goals were identified at the top of activity sheets given to families each month, with a focus on early math skills
- Units switched from bi-weekly to once a month
- Monthly group meetings were held at the Mano en Mano office, to discuss learning goals with parents, and try out activities and apps
- A school readiness checklist was discussed with each family prior to and following the season, to better understand what families felt each child knew and learned related to identified learning goals.
Additionally, Suzen Polk-Hoffses, Kindergarten teacher at Milbridge Elementary School, became involved as a collaborative partner, joining evening meetings to explain how she might present a concept to young children in her classroom, to model story reading and join in discussions and conversations. Community visitors, including the local dentist and a yoga instructor, gave short presentations to parents, and then visited and offered activities to the children, who were meeting in the Kindergarten room doing activities coordinated by an Americorps worker and volunteers.
The home visitor would visit once a month, after the first two weeks of the unit, to get feedback about how well activities worked to help their child meet stated learning goals. Parents were asked to identify what they felt was a learning priority for their child for the final two weeks, plan learning activities to help their child learn and to use the iPad to record a video reflection about how well this worked out, to be handed in with the iPads between units. Family feedback on how helpful it was to have apps in both English and Spanish, to help their children learn (Fire Safety story) and the importance of seeing educational practices modeled, such as expressive story reading, informed planning for 2013.
Additional details about the Comienza en Casa (CEC) program, including activity sheets, app lists and selection tips, field trip photos, student work samples and resources used, can be found by clicking on Comienza en Casa 2012, Comienza en Casa 2013, and Comienza en Casa Resources Page. Visit the Community Partnerships page to learn about other efforts to expand early learning opportunities for children and families at the library.