United Way of San Diego County.

With its focus on student achievement, including kindergarten readiness and early grade literacy, the City Heights Partnership for Children, managed by United Way of San Diego County, has always emphasized a parent’s pivotal role in their child’s development.

Preparing children to succeed in school means making sure mom and dad succeed as well. For the last two years, trained promotoras (community coaches) have educated parents of incoming kindergarteners about the important roles they play in their children’s success.

Since 2012, promotoras have provided toolkits to families so parents can create literacy-rich home environments. The toolkits – including a workbook for parents, crayons, paper, activity tips, magnet letters and flashcards- help children recognize letters and sounds, colors and shapes, common sight words and encourage them to practice early reading skills. The kits have been a big hit with the kids, but what about their parents?
A survey went out to the ten elementary schools in the Hoover Cluster, which are predominantly identified as low income, high English Language Learner (ELL) students with a culturally diverse population.

In response to one question – “How did the toolkit help you prepare as a parent?” – parents had a lot to say:

“It helped build my confidence and learn what she needs to learn.”
“It helped me because I didn’t even know how to begin to start helping him.”
“It made me realize that they learn from playing.”
“They taught us how to work with our children so they don’t get bored when it’s time to do homework.”
“It helped me be more patient with him and make sure he is prepared for kindergarten.”

To date, more than 2,000 families have received toolkits, and everyone is benefiting. “Parent engagement is key to supporting our students from cradle to career and creating a college-going culture in and out of the home,” Anna Toscano, United Way’s Community & Family Engagement Specialist who works directly with the promotoras tells Giving Back Magazine. “Every student can succeed when they are equipped with the right tools.”

To learn more about United Way or the City Heights Partnership for Children, please contact Tia Anzellotti, Director of Partnerships, at tanzellotti@uwsd.org or (858) 636-4139.