RATIONALE FOR PARENTS AS EDUCATIONAL PARTNERS PROGRAM
Research consistently supports the essential role the family plays in children’s healthy development and academic success. The data indicate that students at all grade levels do better academic work and have more positive school attitudes, higher aspirations, and other positive behaviors if their parents are knowledgeable, encouraging, and involved in their children’s education (Epstein, 1994). There is, however, a lack of appropriate curricula and materials that address both parental involvement issues and English language acquisition needs.
The Parents as Educational Partners (PEP): School-Related Curriculum for Language Minority Parents fills this gap. The PEP Curriculum addresses the need to provide limited English proficient (LEP) parents support to feel comfortable participating in their children’s education. Based on a needs assessment of parents and teachers, the Parents as Educational Partners Curriculum provides adult ESL instruction, information about the U.S. school system, and strategies for school involvement. The curriculum also assists LEP parents in overcoming the language and cultural barriers that make them particularly vulnerable to being left out of their children’s educational experiences.
This content-based curriculum consists of seven instructional units:
- What Is Happening at Your Child’s School? – Weekly Parent Communication
- District Related Events – Weekly Parent Communication to Encourage Involvement
- The U.S. School System - NCLB
- Report Cards and Curricula
- School Personnel and the School Day
- Study Skills and Homework
- School Procedures
- School Health Procedures
- Parent-Teacher Conferences
The Parents as Educational Partners Curriculum is based on the premise that “parent involvement is a process, not an event (Davis,1989). “Process” in PEP refers to building parent involvement through ongoing adult education and interactive activities rather than through sporadically scheduled parent meetings or workshops. The PEP Curriculum takes language minority parents from the role of learners to the role of decision makers in their children’s education.
The PEP Curriculum won both the Illinois and National 1996 EXCELLENCE IN ENGLISH AWARDS presented by The English Speaking Union. Karen Jeff, Director of the ESU’s Language Department in New York, praised the PEP Curriculum as “well thought out and relevant.” She quoted one of the national judges as saying, “With educational reform across the country calling for increased parental involvement, this program is a unique and vital opportunity for families with a limited proficiency in English”.