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Queens Library Immigrant Family Literacy

Queens Library

Innovation Leader: Silvana Vasconcelos, Family Literacy Coordinator, svasconcelos@queenslibrary.org

Problem Statement

Queens Library has an intensive Immigrant Family Literacy program following the federal model of family literacy which requires 6 hours of adult education, 2 hours of parenting, and 4 hours of intergenerational literacy activities per week for 38 weeks with an 80% attendance rate. It is a goal that is not easily achieved, and rarely attempted in library based instruction.

Innovation

Distance Pact Time (DPT). The program analyzed the situation and pilot tested the Distance Pact Time-- Distance Parent and Child Together Time (DPT) which consists of weekly family homework assignments in an effort to transfer learning to the home in a natural way. DPT encourages parents and caregivers to create space, time, and motivation to lead literacy practices in order to strengthen family identity and sense of pride along with building ‘school like’ practices in the families’ daily routine. It takes into consideration and builds upon the culture, the knowledge and the experiences of the adults in the family.

Each week families were given specific instructions to work with their children and other members of their families around a variety of topics. In 2006 the topic was food, parents’ memories, cooking and eating together. They documented the process and recipes resulting in Queens Library Family Literacy Program cookbook. In 2007, they focused on a Navaho creation myth, The Magic Weaver of Rugs. Families published their own myth book. 2008 was devoted to parents’ childhood, hometown and ancestors and in following the same model. In 2009 the theme was toys. At the end of June the families published their books “Memories of Toy Making” illustrated by the children and written as a family. More than 60 families have published family books in this manner.

Progress

The Distance Pact Time (DPT) practice made it possible for families to reach the minimum rate of attendance. More importantly, the DPT practice has transferred classroom learning to the home in a natural way. Fathers and other members of the family became involved in the family homework assignments. During the current school year, 2009-2010, 60% of children enrolled in our program progressed at least one level and the participating adults went up at least one level of the National Report System (NRS) levels in English proficiency.