Kids find fun and games in dual language learning
“Do you know what this is?” Bethany Nevarez asked the 4-year-old child looking up at her.
“Manzana.” In English? “Apple.”
What color is it? “Green.” And in espanol? “Verde.”
Then, with her proud mother looking on, it’s smiles all around and Ester, who is in pre-K, pushes the plastic apple into the mouth of the cartoon character and collects her free book and picture stickers.
Bethany and Ester were at Peek’s Park Saturday morning participating in Cedartown’s first Latino Literacy Day. The event is the brainchild of Nevarez, whose official job is coordinator of the Polk County School District’s McKinney Venco program for homeless children in the schools, but Nevarez, who is also interested in dual literacy, planned the literacy day as a personal project, at least for the first time around.
“Children who know two languages have higher IQs,” she says, and they just generally do better in school both emotionally and mentally. Nevarez said she also wanted to do something to get parents interested in helping their children learn English by demonstrating simple ways to practice both languages.
“I wanted parents to understand they don’t have to wait for the
child to go to school, they can use things around the house to teach their children.”
Scattered around the lawn on the northern end of the park were tables and balloons and piles of dual language books being given away as prizes for participating in simple games, like toss the ball into the correct basket and then say or spell the name of the object in English and in Spanish.
Nevarez asked Rhonda Hurer, executive director of Polk County Family Connections to partner with her on putting the event together. Hurer brought in representatives from the Grace Presbyterian Church, The Ferst Foundation, Our House, Georgia Highlands College, Primary Health Care, and another health care provider, Amerigroup, all of whom were set up in the park’s pavilion to talk to parents about language resources.
Hurer said Bethany was the brain behind the event, but it was definitely something Family Connections wanted to participate in, as one of Family Connections’ activities is a partnership with the state program, “Get Georgia Reading.”
One of the goals of “Get Georgia Reading,” Hurer said, is to encourage parents to teach their children at home. “The Latino population culturally admires teachers,” Hurer said, “but we want them to consider themselves teachers. As parents, they are their child’s first teachers.”
Bethany Nevarez plays a naming game with 4-year-old Ester at Latino Literacy Day Saturday in Peek’s Park.