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A Whole Family Approach To Raising At-Risk Kids

May 12, 2010

PHOENIX - Research is clear that educational success for kids depends a lot on the efforts of their parents. But some parents don't have the necessary education and skills. When at-risk preschoolers are accepted for childcare at A Stepping Stone Foundation, their parents also sign up for mandatory literacy and parenting classes, according to executive director Cynthia Gattorna.

"We're looking for families who have three- and four-year-old children who are at risk of school failure due to the fact that one or both of their parents never completed high school, or perhaps are learning English as a second language, or both."

Cynthia Gattorna says the privately-funded family literacy program gives kids a good start on their education while supporting parents in their role as a child's first, best teacher.

Because of state and local government budget cuts, Gattorna notes many children out of school for the summer months will have fewer programs and activities available to them. She says parents and all adults need to make the extra effort to support Arizona's kids with love, intelligence and creativity.

"Often, people think it's all incumbent upon the parents to make a successful experience for kids, but it's really incumbent on all of us. It really does take a village to raise a child, and summer is a particular time of importance if they're not attending any of their regular programming."

Gattorna advises adults to remember to greet children with dignity and respect, speak to them using a rich vocabulary, play creative games with them and, above all, talk to each other about what is happening in their lives.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ