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Parenting for Academic Success: A Curriculum for Families Learning English

Janet M. Fulton,
National Center for Family Literacy, Louisville, KY
Laura Golden, Education Consultant
Betty Ansin Smallwood
, CAL, Washington, DC
K. Lynn Savage
, Education Consultant

Parenting for Academic Success: A Curriculum for Families Learning English is a 12–unit curriculum designed for parents who speak a language other than English as a native language.

Its goals are two–fold:

  • To develop the English language skills of parents.

  • To increase the ability of parents to support the language and literacy development of their children in kindergarten through grade three.

Parents learn and practice new concepts in the classroom, then transfer their learning to their home with take–home activities that help their children prepare for and succeed in school. The curriculum focuses on three parenting skill areas:

  • Home Language and Culture (Units 2 & 3)

  • School and Culture (Units 4 & 5)

  • Language and Literacy Development (Units 6-11)

Unit 1 offers teachers the opportunity to introduce the curriculum to parents and focus them on the goals of the program. Unit 12 provides an opportunity for parents to celebrate their accomplishments.

The curriculum has two components—a set of Parent Workbooks for all 12 units and a comprehensive Teacher’s Resource Manual. The curriculum is accompanied by a paper outlining the research base for the curriculum (developed by staff of the Center for Applied Linguistics). Download a copy of the research base.

The organizational framework for each unit follows the stages of a lesson:
  • Review/warm–up

  • Introduction

  • Presentation and practice

  • Assessment

  • Evaluation

  • Application


Each lesson in the Parent Workbooks includes

  • Activities to support the language development of parents

  • Content knowledge development for parents to support their child’s learning

  • Activities for parents to take home and do with their child

Each unit in the Teacher’s Resource Manual provides

  • The Unit Overview, which identifies a unit goal and offers background information and research on the unit’s topic.

  • The Lesson Plans, which identify a goal, parenting skills and language skills objectives, and suggested procedures for facilitating activities in the corresponding Parent Workbook.

  • The Teacher Resources Section, which provides references, suggestions for further reading, reproducible masters for activities that require separate handouts for parents, and reproducible Parent Surveys in English and Spanish.

The research article outlines four research-based principles that should guide classroom instruction with English language learners.

Principle 1: Language teaching is most effective when instruction is provided in a context that is meaningful to students’ lives. This is especially true for adult learners, who bring years of experience to the classroom. Best practices in English as a second language (ESL) education integrate language and content instruction.

Principle 2: Language learners need to have opportunities to practice the structures, vocabulary, and strategies they are learning.

Principle 3: All parents play a critical role in supporting their children’s language, literacy, and cognitive development. Parents learning English should recognize that second language learning and literacy are built upon a strong foundation of first language (L1) and culture, which should be explored and celebrated in the home.

Principle 4: All parents should share books with their children. Parents and other family members should read to and with their children in whatever language they feel most comfortable using. Literacy in two languages is an academic advantage.

Development of Materials for Children and Adults Learning English
At the invitation of the National Center for Family Literacy, CAL staff participated in the development of these materials, providing expertise on the development of content knowledge and language proficiency of children and adults learning English as a second language. For information about professional development for teachers and administrators, technical assistance for program staff, and curriculum development, contact Dr. Betty Ansin Smallwood, Center for Applied Linguistics, 202-362-0700.

The National Center for Family Literacy provides training on the use of the Parenting for Academic Success curriculum. To schedule a training, contact Janet Fulton, National Center for Family Literacy, 502-584-1133, ext. 170.

Download a sample of the Parenting for Academic Success materials.

Order online at Delta Publishing Company.