Discover Parent Seminars are designed to empower parents to teach their preschool age children the necessary educational and language skills for success upon entry into school.
In Roma areas, there is a crippling lack of both preschool and kindergarten level schooling. In most villages, adequate programs are years away, which creates a critical problem when these children are evaluated for entrance into first-year primary education in the national school system.
To face the current immediate need, Discover Parent Seminars by Roma Learning to Fly use a results-oriented curriculum and integrated long-term program that leverages a child’s first and lifetime teacher, the parent.
How it works
To begin, a launch event for parents is held where key educational principles are taught by RLTF team members. Over the following six weeks, workshops are held weekly for the parents, facilitated by Discover coaches.
Discover coaches are appointed from the local Roma community. (Coaching teams are previously trained during an in-person event.) Prior to each weekly meeting with the larger parent groups, the coaches receive specific session training via video conferencing from RLTF team members. Additionally, each coaching team has a Roma coordinator involved, who tracks group meetings and updates RLTF curriculum leaders about progress or concerns.
After six weeks of weekly meetings, the parent group meetings become monthly and are held and facilitated by the coaches. Meetings and access to necessary resources are facilitated from the Digital Village Learning Centers.
This full process allows for deep integration culturally and for additional groups to be started and maintained in a sustainable model.
Each participating parent taking part in the initial training event receives a “Tool Box” that includes items to be used as they work with their children.
In addition, a lending library is provided within the Digital Village Learning Center for parents to check out books. (Due to the lack of education in many Roma communities, it’s important to note that parents are taught how to “read” with their children, even if the parent is illiterate.) In the future, Roma Learning to Fly is planning to leverage the Digital Villages Learning Centers to make even more digital resources available to parents and children to facilitate increased access to high-quality learning materials.
Discover Parent Seminars are paving the way for the youngest members of Roma communities to be accepted to and become successful in the primary school system of Slovakia.
Since beginning in 2012, Discover Parent Seminars have now reached the third phase of an intensive piloting effort. Following the first phase of the pilot, which was held in two locations–one in Czech Republic and one in Slovakia, Roma Learning to Fly team members adapted the curriculum based on the learning needs. Following the second phase of the pilot in two locations in Slovakia, the program was adapted to have a further integrated coaching model. These initial Seminars opened the doors and provided the framework for the third phase, which is currently in progress, and involves launching Discover Parent Seminars in the locations of the first Digital Village Learning Centers.
Through Discover Parent Seminars, RLTF has also been able to connect with local social workers, who welcome and commend the program.
It is so important to catch the youngest generation. The training prepares parents to better understand how to help their children develop a capacity for learning.” – Gabriela Gaborova, Social Worker, Vtackovce
Most importantly, though, we are already seeing real perception change among parents concerning the importance of education for their children. When recently asked, “What do you tell your child about why they need to go to school?” one of the mothers, Iveta, responded, “so he would become somebody and mean something.”
The following image shows a Roma mother, who is a Discover coach, leading a session with other Roma parents. Empowering local Roma coaches like this mother is the key to deep and lasting results for Roma children and communities.
As of late 2015, the Discover Parent Seminars are in a late stage of piloting, which involves holding the Seminars in each of the same locations as the current Digital Village Learning Centers. Following this final stage of piloting, the pre- and post-program testing data will be collected for review. This will allow the full program to be refined for use as a reproducible model.
A planned outcome of these efforts is to also establish a network of local Roma parent coaches who can participate in regionally based training events, allowing even more rapid expansion and the ability to leverage coach-to-coach learning.
More projects by Roma Learning to Fly: