This East Bay Grade School is Helping Parents Improve Their English Skills Too

Regular use of the English language is important for all students, but especially those for whom English is a second language. Now, one elementary school in Oakland, California is giving non-English speaking parents and those who struggle with literacy the tools they need to practice and converse at home.

The Oakland Unified School District is one of 100 districts nationwide offering a family literacy program. At Fruitvale Elementary School, mothers and fathers can brush up on their English and reading skills while their children are in school.

Fruitvale’s literacy program isn’t just improving English skills, however. The lessons parents learn in the classroom can help their child excel in math and science as well.

“One time last week my daughter had this one,” mother Wahbiai Alqaifi told Public Radio International, pointing to an image of fractions on a chalkboard. “I said, 'Yes, yes, I understand this one. I can help you.'”

Sometimes the parents take their newfound skills to great personal heights, obtaining GEDs, graduating from college, and obtaining new, higher-paying careers. But nothing compares to the increased involvement in their children’s lives.

“In some of our studies, we're showing that kids whose parents attend family literacy attend school 16 more days a year. That’s a whole year by the time they graduate high school,” Sharon Darling, director of the National Center for Families Learning, told PRI. “We're also showing that our achievement test scores rise with the children who have been with parents in family literacy. So we're excited about what we see both for parents and for children.”

Read more about Fruitvale Elementary's family literacy program here