For many, it was the first graduation in their family. With faces beaming, cameras flashing, their pride was evident.
The event was not high school, trade school or a vocational-tech. It was the graduation class in the Parent-Child Home Program, an early literacy and parenting program of Slavic Family Support program at FIRM, held on May 27.
“I feel proud,” said Tonya, mother of Kevin, 4, one of the graduates. “It is my first boy. I was so excited. It’s a very nice program. It was wonderful to see the graduation.”
Twenty five 4-year-olds took part in the festive celebration. Each child and parent received a certificate stating they had completed the program. Each child also received a picture dictionary.
“It was clear to see that the families were proud of not only their child but themselves because the program is based around the children and the parent succeeding together,” said Andrey Kovalenko, Program Coordinator.
In the nationally-based program, which just completed its fifth year in Fresno, Slavic Family Support works with parents and their young children, ages 2 to 5 years old, in their homes. Staff models reading and activities to promote verbal interaction, using carefully chosen books and toys.
“When these children begin kindergarten, they are often very well ahead of similarly situated peers,” said Nelya Rudan, Preschool Teacher.
“Parents who have low education and live in poverty tend to lack the awareness, the importance of verbal interaction with their kids,” Nelya explained. “This program helps parents dramatically increase their interactions. It is wonderfully rewarding for both the parent and the child.”
“It was my first graduation to attend,” said Valentina, whose grandson, Josh, 4, graduated.” He is my first grandson. I was very happy.”
Slavic Family Support recently was cut in funding for the home visitation and offers Parent-Child developmental learning groups every other week. Parent group activities provide opportunities to discuss information about parenting issues and child development. Parents learn from and support each other, observe their children with other children, and practice parenting skills. The parent-child sessions are designed as an Early Head Start session. It is a time for parent and child to interact together in a group setting.