California: Moreno Valley program is making preschool parents teachers too

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Sep 29 14:46:14 UTC 2007

Moreno Valley program is making preschool parents teachers too

08:39 AM PDT on Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Press-Enterprise

MORENO VALLEY - Children too young for kindergarten are getting an
early introduction to attending classes at Sunnymead Elementary
School. A pilot program offered only to 3- and 4-year-olds who will
attend Sunnymead will teach them lessons about the five senses,
reading and coping with separation from their families. It aims to
chart the success of English-language learners and to determine
whether early intervention is making a difference in their ongoing
education, officials said.

"This is going to help them develop motor skills, develop their
language skills and especially to get a little more independent," said
Gloria Borjon, Sunnymead's community liaison and program teacher.  The
10-week kindergarten-readiness class, taught in English and Spanish,
is part of the PROMISE Initiative co-sponsored by the state Department
of Education's Language Policy and Leadership Office. The PROMISE --
an acronym for Pursuing Regional Opportunities for Mentoring,
Innovation, and Success for English Learners -- Initiative is a
collaboration of six counties: Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego,
Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura.

San Bernardino City Unified also offers a PROMISE preschool class at
its state preschool facility, according to PROMISE. Borjon's class is
the only PROMISE preschool program in Moreno Valley. It began Sept. 4,
said Miriam Blum, Moreno Valley's PROMISE facilitator.  Unlike Head
Start, the PROMISE preschool program does not limit participation by
family income. As many as 12 preschoolers can enroll in each session.
Each session offers a weekly meeting of 60 to 90 minutes, Blum said.
At least two sessions will be offered during the current school year,
she said.

There is no charge for the program. It is not costing the district
extra funds because no new positions had to be created, Blum said. "As
the community liaison, (Borjon's) duties include teaching the class,"
Blum said.  The pilot program aims to chart the success of
English-language learners and to determine whether early intervention
Other PROMISE programs for older children have been implemented at
Sunnymead Middle School. Data from the school sites will be evaluated
by Loyola Marymount University to see whether the programs have a
positive effect on the students' academic progress, Blum said.

During the five-senses class, Borjon let the preschoolers smell a
sprig of mint and taste a mint candy. Their mothers, most who speak
only Spanish, sat nearby watching their children learn.

"Parents are their kids' first teachers," Borjon said.

"... We're teaching the parents how to teach their students at home,"
she added.

Borjon follows an online bilingual curriculum program called Virtual
Pre-K, created by the Chicago Public Schools system.

A Web site offers parents a place where they can discuss their child's
progress and share ideas with other parents.

"Parents can print out certificates from the site for their children,"
Blum said.

Maria Teresa Guerrero held her 1-year-old son, Adrian, as she watched
her 4-year-old son, Diego, take part in the class. It was Diego's
first day. He smiled as Borjon sang songs in English and Spanish then
looked back to his mother for reassurance.

Guerrero was impressed with the class and would have enrolled her son
at the beginning of the session if she had known about it, she said
through a translator. After each class, Borjon gives the parents
homework. This week, the parents are supposed to take their children
to a grocery store, a park or another place where the children can
practice using their senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing,
Borjon said.

Lorena Castillo, mother of 3-year-old Katherine Martinez, said through
a translator that her daughter looks forward to coming to class and
enjoys talking about the lessons at home. Castillo believes the
program will help her daughter do well when she enters kindergarten,
she said.

Online lessons

A Web site created by the Chicago Public Schools provides 10 lessons
for teachers and the parents of preschoolers. Visit

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