APPLES to literacy

Local chapter of The Links kicks off learning project at Head Start

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.

Alachua County Head Start parent Jekayla Hutchinson praised the Project APPLES Literacy Kickoff Event for involving parents and providing the tools to help them help their chidlren learn to read and to be ready for kindergarten.

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Head Start parents and their children read together during the Project APPLES Literacy Kickoff Event.

Aida Mallard/Special to the Guardian

"It's nice they're trying to involve parents and provide hands-on tools," said Hutchinson, the mother of 3-year-old Jayde Hale. "I really appreciate it."

Hutchinson was one of 30 Alachua County Head Start parents and children who attended the Project APPLES, or Active Parent Participation in Learning Enhances-Empowerment and Student-Success, Literacy Kickoff Event held last Wednesday at the Fearnside Family Center.

Sponsored by the Gainesville chapter of The Links Inc., the event provided parents with information, interactive games and children's books to enable them to continue working with their chidlren at home to get them ready for kindergarten.

"The focus is reading readiness skills through training parents and hands-on demonstration and modeling," said Leila Pratt, chairwoman of the Services to Youth Facet of The Links. She said Project APPLES is a grant-funded reading-literacy program that was started in 2008 in partnership with Head Start.

New this year, Pratt said, is intensified training and resources for Head Start parents with students at the Prairie View Center, Rawlings Elementary School and Fearnside. She said any county Head Start parent can participate and attend the monthly programs, which will be held from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month, also at Fearnside.

Phillis McKnight, family and community engagement manager of Head Start, said that until this year, Project APPLES traveled each month to county Head Start sites.

"We're trying to get parents more involved in their child's education to encourage and empower parents to read to their children and work with them in reading readiness skills to get them ready for elementary school and to foster a love of reading," said Pratt.

Carrie Parker-Warren, president of the local chapter of The Links, said Project APPLES is a wonderful program that strives to have parents realize the success of their children is resting on their shoulders.

"Learning to read is one of the most important things they can give to their children," Parker-Warren said.

Pratt said parents also will receive brochures on child development that will cover such topics as ways to discipline and give positive attention, effective communication with children, recognizing their child's gifts in terms of style of learning, and other information. She said parents also will have an opportunity to mentor other parents and share information. In addition, they will be introduced to technology and resources online that promote literacy.

Kimberly Williams, mother of 3-year-old Jada Hale, no relation to Jayde, said she found Project APPLES to be great, very educational and effective in getting parents involved.

Robert McCullum, Jada's dad, was pleased to see so many fathers attending the event and involved with their children.

McKnight praised all of the parents who attended. "They could be anywhere, but they chose to help us here at Head Start," she said. "They are passionate to help their children succeed."

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