Engaging parents as their children’s first teacher is central to the mission of Raising A Reader MA. Efforts to strengthen this aspect of our work was the impetus for launching Raising A Reader MA’s Parent Ambassador program in Chelsea in Fall 2010. Funding from BNY Mellon provided the resources to develop and test a systematic program of training and support for “graduates” of Raising A Reader MA who sought to help other families in their efforts to develop, practice and maintain habits of reading together at home.
The first team of Parent Ambassadors was convened in Chelsea, MA in 2010 to provide early literacy outreach to neighbors, parishioners, family, and friends in their community, and to provide operational support for family workshops and other aspects of our high-impact early literacy programming. Not only have these parents found an outlet to help inspire other families to read with their children at home, they have helped us strengthen our program offerings; we believe that these community-based parent leaders are the best advocates for Raising A Reader MA and for building strong reading habits.
In Fall 2012, Raising A Reader MA’s parent leadership program is active throughout the Commonwealth as we continue to define the program and Parent Ambassador roles. Parent Ambassador activities have expanded to include helping identify and recruit new implementation partners, inviting and reminding families to attend school- or community-based reading workshops, and providing peer support to families struggling with their home reading routines. So how do they do this? What do they tell families to inspire them to attend a workshop at their church or in their child school?
Lauren Butler and Morgan Kapinos, the former Regional Program Manager and Site Manager for Chelsea, invited Norma Salgado, Ana Lopez, and Laura Perez to answer these questions in their own words. The result is a new YouTube video featured on Raising A Reader MA’s YouTube Channel.
These parent leaders are making a difference in our efforts to increase the rate at which families regularly share books with their young children at home. Program evaluation data shows that parents are more likely to attend multiple Dialogic Reading workshops at partner sites where we have Parent Ambassadors. And the more workshops a parent attends, the stronger her/his family reading time is likely to be.