When North Georgetown Elementary School concluded its second nine-week “Leamos Juntos” (“Let’s Read Together”) program for Spanish-speaking students and their families on April 5, the team set out to offer another opportunity for the local Latino community that is not available in the area – an infant and toddler literacy program in Spanish.
This need to expose children to literacy at an even younger age in their native language brought about the creation of the new “Leemelo” (“Read it to me”) program for infants and toddlers. The six-week program meets every Wednesday after school and is designed for children under the age of 4. It will continue through the end of May.
“We try to stress the importance to families of reading and interacting with the child at an early age to develop the literacy skills that will be needed once the child starts school,” said North Georgetown Principal Sarah Green, who noted that research has shown it’s beneficial to expose children to language as early as possible.
Jennifer Nein, the Multilingual Learner Coordinator at North Georgetown, created “Leemelo” to feature family reading activities, games, interactive play, songs and crafts. It has been brought to life by a team of highly-motivated bilingual staff members. The goal of the program is to build children’s vocabulary, comprehension and fluency in their native language.
“Having a strong foundation in their native language is hugely impactful on a child’s ability to learn a second language and become both bilingual and biliterate,” said Nein.
Nearly 75 percent of North Georgetown’s student population is Hispanic/Latino and Mrs. Green noted that even if parents are non-English speakers, it is crucial for them to read to children in their native language. This will help children build strong vocabularies, which will transfer when they begin to learn English and literacy skills, and better prepare them to be successful upon entering kindergarten at age 5.
North Georgetown plans to continue both the “Leamos Juntos” and “Léemelo” programs when school resumes in the fall.