Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative

Helping Parents Understand English Language Development in English Language Learners

by: Guadalupe Díaz, Cesiah Vega & Dr. Karen Thompson

(En Espanol)

Parents whose children are English Language Learners often have many concerns about their children’s English language development.  Many myths surround English language development that can create confusion, making it difficult for parents to know the best strategies to support their children.  We have compiled the top five concerns that we have repeatedly heard from parents about their children’s English language development. We will address each concern based on latest research.

Concern #1: If I speak my native language to my child he/she will not learn English 

Many parents worried that speaking their native language to their children will delay language and academic growth.  Current research shows that speaking a native language can build the language foundation that children need to learn a second language. Once children have developed a strong language foundation in their first language they will be better equipped to learn English.

Concern #2: Learning two languages will confuse my child

 It is a common myth that learning two languages can confuse and/or overwhelm a child, but based on current research the opposite is true.  Most children around the world learn more than one language. Children have the capacity to distinguish between the two languages through different cues to decide which language is appropriate to use in each context. Learning two languages will not cause delays in children’s English language acquisition.  Additionally, research has shown that learning two languages has cognitive, sociocultural, and economic benefits.

Concern #3: My child’s language is not developing as fast as children who only speak English

Often parents compare their children’s language development to other children to assess whether they are developing appropriately.  It is important to remember that all children develop at different rates and there are different stages of acquiring a second language. The different stages can help us understand where children are in their English language development and how to help them further their skills.

Concern #4: My child will fall behind if they have not learned English by the end of preschool or kindergarten

Often when children are not speaking English by the end of preschool or kindergarten parents become concern that children are falling behind.  The reality is that it takes children on average 4-7 years to become fluent in English.  Learning two languages is hard work and we need to give children enough time and the appropriate support to master both languages.

Concern #5: If my child attends a dual immersion program they will and fall behind in English and academically

When parents are making the decision whether to enroll their children in dual immersion programs they worry that their children will fall behind academically and they will learn English at a slower pace.  Research has documented the long-term benefits of enrolling children in dual immersion programs.  For example, research shows that in the long-term, children who are English Language Learners are more likely to become proficient in English and master academic content when they are enrolled in dual language immersion programs rather than English-only programs. Additionally, dual immersion programs are more effective at closing the achievement gap between English language learners and non-English language learners.

To find more information on supporting English Language Learners go to: http://www.colorincolorado.org
http://www.colorincolorado.org/es/home (Recursos en Español/Resources in Spanish)

Promoting Positive Health & Development in Children

By Megan McClelland, Ph.D.
(Oregon Parenting Education Week Newsletter – 2015)

Although many young children have healthy and positive childhoods, disturbing numbers of children continue to experience abuse. There are a number of ways that this can be prevented including supporting positive and effective parenting strategies. Here are a few tips that parents can use to promote positive health and development in their children.

1. Work on your own self-control Parents who keep themselves calm are more able to respond patiently to their children, even when children are having a temper tantrum. Parents who have an understanding of typical child development are more likely to link children’s behavior to their stage of development. This helps put a child’s behavior in perspective. Children also model their parent’s behavior. For example, if you start yelling in your car in a fit of road rage, your child will learn to solve problems by yelling too. Promoting strong self-control in children is important because it predicts how they do in school, how they get along with others, and many long-term outcomes such as stronger health and better educational attainment (e.g., graduating from college).

2.Develop a warm and responsive parenting style but keep your expectations high too! Parents who are warm and responsive with their children have stronger relationships with them. But don’t give up your expectations! Children with warm but firm parents are more likely to comply with adult demands and act in more moral ways. They are also more likely to do better in school, have stronger self-esteem, and a better sense of who they are.

3.Talk, talk, talk with your child! Key to developing a positive relationship with your child is to talk with them as soon as they are born and keep talking to them! Use trips to the store, bath time, and meal time as important time with your child. Do not spend this time on cell phones or other mobile devices – it can lead you to be impatient and inattentive with your child. Even if your child is too young to talk, talk to them about what you have to do that day or what you are buying at the store. As they get older, listen to them and ask open-ended questions. Early vocabulary and language skills are important precursors to school readiness and will also promote a strong bond with children.

4.Get help when you need it! Parenting is Hard! We all need breaks, even if we have resources, a supportive partner, and a job that we love. Remember to give yourself a break! Exercising (even if it’s just going for a walk), having time and space to calm down, and getting enough sleep all helps promote positive parenting. For example, research has shown that using mindfulness practices and meditation can lower cortisol (a stress hormone) and promote better parenting. Learning positive parenting strategies is an important way to improve your parenting and your child’s development. Go to parenting classes and access resources! A few good resources include: http://www.joinvroom.org, www.pbs.org/wholechild/parents/building.html, and http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/.

Parenting Education: It’s Good for All Parents

By Jenn Finders & John Geldhof, Ph.D.
(Oregon Parenting Education Week Newsletter – 2015)

Parenting education classes are an important resource for families. Sadly, common myths keep many families from taking part. Many parents see these classes as a way to correct other people’s bad behaviors. They do not understand that all parents have something to gain from classes based on the latest research.

The Myth
We tend to see interventions as something that “fix” people. If parents see parenting education only as an intervention, they assume the classes are only meant for bad parents. Parents who go to the classes must be doing something wrong; otherwise they wouldn’t need to go.

The Facts
Parenting education is not an intervention. Parenting classes can teach all parents important new skills. In fact, research done at Oregon State University shows that low-income, higher-income, court-mandated, and voluntary parents all benefit from parenting education equally.

The Solution
Education is just as important for raising a child as it is for having one. For example, many parents learn about giving birth from friends and family, but they also take childbirth classes to better prepare for the event. By working to remove the stigma from parenting education, we can teach parents that these classes can likewise supplement the advice they get from their friends and families, teaching them:

  • Children’s age-appropriate behaviors
  • Positive ways to discipline
  • Better ways to communicate
  • A clearer understanding of their own parenting goals and values

To find out more about parenting classes in your area, contact your local parenting education hub: http://health.oregonstate.edu/hallie-ford/oregon-parenting-education/opec-hubs

Physical activity for your child with a disability

physical activityBy Megan MacDonald, PhD & Erica Twardzik
(Oregon Parenting Education Week Newsletter – 2015)

You are your child’s advocate for physical activity and exercise. One way you can support your preschool child with a disability to be active is by making sure that physical activity is included in your Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). An IFSP is a plan that you help to create so your child has access to the services that they need. Physical activity/physical education is included in this plan. The steps below are ways you can get the ball rolling for inclusion of physical activity services to an IFSP in Oregon.

Step 1: Make a referral
To create an IFSP for your child you will first need to make a referral. Referring your child will include sharing concerns that you have about your child’s development. In the state of Oregon services for young children with a disability are provided by the education department: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1690

Step 2: Evaluation
An evaluation will help you learn your child’s specific strengths and needs in order to be physically active. This can help you and your doctor find physical activities that will be fun and the right fit for your child.

Step 3: What is available around you?
Physical activity in your area can be found through local community organizations. Well established programs in the state of Oregon include, but are not limited to: Special Olympics, Boys & Girls Clubs, Parks & Recreation, Family YMCA’s, and other local community based programs. You can also contact United Way to ask about help for your child in these programs.

Step 4: Remember you are your child’s strongest believer!
The goal is to find physical activities that your child will enjoy. But, if your child is having difficulty with the activity you can ask for the right supports be added to your child’s IFSP. This will make sure that your child has the best chance at success. You as parents have the power to make a positive impact on your child’s physical activity and exercise experiences.

Establishing Children’s Sleep Routines

By Denise Rennekamp, M.S.
(Oregon Parenting Education Week Newsletter – 2015)

Adequate sleep is important to your child’s overall health, growth, and development. Children who do not get enough sleep are less mentally alert and easily distracted. Lack of sleep can also cause a child to be more physically impulsive. Establishing a calming naptime/bedtime routine can help your child get to sleep faster and awake rested. Although each child and family situation is unique, the following ideas may be helpful.

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGive children some transition time. Say, “it’s naptime in 10 minutes” or “after I read you a story, it will be time to go to sleep.” It may help to use a timer so children will know when time is up.
  • Set rules about number of stories, drinks of water, getting out of bed, etc.
  • Plan a wind-down activity. Read a story, turn down the lights, play quiet music, or just talk. TV, movies, screen time, roughhousing, or active games are not good choices prior to naptime or bedtime.
  • Provide children with security. Let her have her favorite stuffed animals, blankie, night light, flashlight by the bed, or the door open.
  • Talk about fears and anxieties. Do a “monster check” if that seems to be a concern.
  • Avoid activities that compete with resting or going to sleep. Have adults and older children observe similar quiet time. This will encourage the little ones to go to sleep.
  • Decide on a regular bedtime. Set bedtime 10 to 12 hours before the child needs to get up. If a child is getting up too early, he may be going to bed too soon. On the other hand, if a child is grumpy or drowsy, he may not be getting to bed early enough.

“Consistency is key to success. If you are co-parenting, discuss bedtime routines and work as a team. A well-rested child equals a more rested parent.”

For more parenting tips contact your local OPEC Parenting Hub!