‘Excited about education’

Park Side Elementary School has Family Literacy Night

Photo by Jenny Kirk Christy Rotich watches as her 5-year-old son, Josiah, works on matching up lower case and upper case letters in the ABC Sheep activity that was part of the Family Literacy Night event for kindergarten students and their families on Tuesday at Park Side Elementary School.

MARSHALL — Kindergarten students and their families had the opportunity to play and learn together at the first-ever Family Literacy Night on Tuesday at Park Side Elementary School.

As the kindergarten students entered the building, they were asked to write their names. Then the students and their families were free to roam around the cafeteria and connecting hallway, where there were numerous games and activities to take part in.

“We just wanted to encourage literacy for families,” said Sue Strautz, one of eight kindergarten teachers at Park Side. “And we want to get parents involved, so we thought we would put together some games and things to do and then bring families in. I think it also gives parents some ideas of fun games they can do to help teach literacy at home.”

Adam and Cassie Williams brought their kindergarten student, Amare Williams, as well as second-grader Adam, almost 3-year-old Natanya and 1-year-old Natalia.

“For me — being an educator at the college and working with first-generation, low income students — I think literacy is so important, especially at this younger age,” Cassie Williams said. “And it’s important for kids to see parents involved in their education. I think it helps motivate them and encourage them to keep going.”

While her older brothers took pointer sticks and tapped along the words as they sang a nursery rhyme song, 2-year-old Natalia Williams did the same, singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as if she was already in school herself.

“I love the school, they love the school,” Cassie Williams said. “My parents were always very involved in our education, so when I had my kids, I wanted to do the same thing — to be involved.”

Studies show that parental involvement can help students do better at school.

“It makes them excited about education,” Williams said. “And they can continue to learn all of their life. It’s always nice to learn new things.”

Some of the activities included: bug jar math, ABC sheep matching upper and lower case letters, egg shell rhymes, star search sorting, pattern block stars, spider count and Humpty Dumpty puzzles.

“There’s books, there’s puzzles, there’s sorting and there are sensory tables with letters in there — they can find the letters for their name,” Strautz said. “There’s also star words and an activity where they put the alphabet in order.”

Farhio Gure brought her kindergarten student, Ayan Ahmed, along with her second-grader Najiib Ahmed and preschooler Amran Ahmed. All three seemed to like the blue sand sensory table the best.

Bryan Cornell brought his sons, kindergartner Brooks and second-grader Jameson, to the literacy event.

“He got the flyer in class, so we decided that since Brooks is learning his letters and numbers, it’s important for us to be part of that,” Cornell said.

Brooks and Jameson Cornell especially seemed to like the Hey Diddle Diddle Spoon Race and the Simple Simon Pie Plate Balancing Race.

“These kinds of things are more structured that the things at home,” Cornell said. “It makes it a lot more fun for them to be able to play games and learn at the same time. They’re having a blast.”

Christy Rotich’s 5-year-old son, Josiah, was engaged in many of the activities.

“He wanted to come tonight,” Rotich said. “He loves to learn.”

Assistant Principal Jim Gagner said school is so much easier for students when they’re good readers.

“Reading is huge with these young grades,” Gagner said. “This literacy event is really just an opportunity to share some literacy experiences with the families. So we wanted to open the doors and allow them to do some things with reading — to try and make reading more exciting for the family.”