Elementary school’s ‘Parent University’ helps adults to inspire their children

Nov 21, 2011 by



WEST PALM BEACH — About two dozen parents of students at Hope-Centennial Elementary School have spent the first semester of this school year going back to class themselves. Their task: To learn how to be more effective parents.

And last week, they got a free Thanksgiving turkey for their efforts.

“You have to cooperate with kids more and you can’t just do the old way of doing things where you say, ‘Do as I say not as I do,’ ” said Roddy Leverington, one of 25 parents participating in the school’s 12-week Parent University program. “The main thing kids ask now is ‘Why?’ ”

The free program, which has been done at other schools such as Indian Pines Elementary west of Lantana, was created at Hope-Centennial this year by Nicole Arroyo, a guidance counselor who coordinates English classes for speakers of other languages, and Anthony Moore, the school’s assistant principal.

Every Wednesday, parents take a class after they come to pick up their children in the afternoon, Arroyo said. The school has brought in psychologists working with the county’s Youth Affairs Division each week to teach parenting skills like how to use positive reinforcement and praise and give children choices to get their children to behave.

“It’s basically the same thing we do with the children here at school, giving them choices for their actions,” Arroyo said.

Principal Julie Hopkinssaid she needs the program because her school, west of Haverhill Road between Okeechobee Boulevard and Belvedere Road, is only in its third year and she needs the involvement of her parents in their child’s education and behavior to make it a better place.

“We don’t want to always be calling parents just for negative things,” Hopkins said. “We would rather parents see that we are in this together.”

Parent University is funded by federal Title I money, which the school receives because 92 percent of its students’ families have incomes so low that they qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, Moore said. He said he is looking for ways to keep the program, which is in its first 12-week run, going all school-year long and to do it again next year.

Many of the parents who come to the classes don’t speak English so the school has them wear headphones, Arroyo said. While the psychologist teaches parenting skills in English, the translators talk in Spanish and Creole over the headphones.

The school plans to track the reading scores over the children whose parents took the class to see if there is any improvement over the next year to show that parents learning more helps the children perform better, Arroyo said.

via Elementary school’s ‘Parent University’ helps adults to inspire their children.

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