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The LaFetra College of Education hosted its 14th annual Family Learning Conference on Saturday in Sneaky Park and various classrooms on campus.
Workshops were held throughout the day in Founders Hall, the Campus Center, the Athletics Pavilion and Landis Academic Center by professors and educational studies majors to apply their skills outside of the classroom.
While the conference focused on fun learning methods for children, it also brought families together and gave them an opportunity not only to be more involved with their children’s learning, but to enjoy a free day of fun activities.
“This is it. Bringing families together with books and learning, bringing families to campus,” Marga Madhuri, professor of education, said.
During the first half hour of the conference, families attended a workshop titled “Get Fit with Lit,” held by College of Education students Noelle Maryne, Rachelle Sellen and Natalie Rangel, in which they presented a word building exercise for children.
They demonstrated the activity through basic jazzercise workouts, where a person bends down every time participants say the “onset” part of the word (ex: the letter “P”), while stretching back up after pronouncing the “rime” (ex: the “at” part).
The students also demonstrated an index card building activity to help children with spelling and vocabulary development.
Local children’s book authors held workshops regarding their books, and educating the public about the importance and fun of reading.
Erin Fry, teacher at Goddard Middle School and author, said her passion for books and reading came from seeing how people feel motivated to share their stories through literature.
“I think the thing that matters to me as both a teacher and an author is that students and readers feel empowerment to tell their own stories because they see their stories reflected in writing,” Fry said. “To me that’s the magic of books. Everybody can find themselves in some character some way; writing characters that reflect kids’ real lives.”
Students from the College of Education volunteered to gain experience working and interacting with families. Justine King, junior educational studies major, explained how she enjoyed the opportunity to gain more experience as an aspiring educator.
“Since I was looking for experience to work with them, it was nice to help out on the table, like activities to guide kids…I’m only here in my second semester, so it was cool to get around the campus and learn more about it and personally meet the authors,” King said.
Students who have taken the Children’s Literature class volunteered at the conference to meet the authors who wrote a portion of the program’s reading curriculum.
“In our class, we did read a lot of their books and did studies about them, so it was nice actually to meet them in person,” King said.
The conference began when Madhuri conducted studies and research on the connection between education levels and family incomes. She noticed that teaching was more structured at lower income schools compared to higher ones and sought to provide interactive learning and teaching methods for local, undeserved families.
“Kids at the low income schools need more exposure to this and families need to know that at whatever level of literacy they are, they can be supportive of their children learning,” Madhuri said.
Families attended with their children of various ages, from kindergarten to fifth grade. Moises Castillo, Pomona resident and father of two, brought his family, including his 10-year-old daughter, to help her prepare for college at a young age.
“I came to the event because I wanted to see the campus with my daughter, who is starting to look into colleges, along with seeing the authors,” Castillo said.
Madhuri wanted aspiring teachers to interact and build relationships with families, but mainly focused on bringing low income families together.
“It’s really for me about bringing families together a day where they don’t have to shell out money all day long,” Madhuri said. “Some of the kids at these schools aren’t going to have a chance to meet authors…but they can come here, meet [them], have their book signed and see who writes books.”
Nicolette Rojo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.