By Kelly Youngblood
Most parents or grandparents know the struggles of helping their students with homework. But a new pilot program in Champaign hopes to equip local adults with the tools to assist their students in finding academic success.
The “Parent Lab” is a new program offered to Unit 4 parents and grandparents, with a focus on students at Booker T. Washington, Stratton Elementary, and Garden Hills. It’s a collaboration with Parkland’s Project READ, Champaign Public Library’s Douglass Branch and Unit 4 Schools that provides participants with tutoring services on primary subject areas their students are studying such as math and reading.
Katina Wilcher, director of student, family and community engagement at Unit 4, said the program is a response to the needs of parents and families in the community.
In a summary of the program, Wilcher wrote, “Ultimately, we want to normalize the fact that it can be challenging to make sense of teaching and learning strategies these days, and the newly developed Parent Lab can support parents and guardians in adding to their child’s success while subtracting frustration when it comes to homework help at home.”
While the purpose of the Parent Lab is to empower parents with the resources to help their students and increase their ability to be engaged with their child’s education, an added benefit is to provide participants with additional individualized support.
Amanda Harris, manager of Project READ, said the Parent Lab is also an opportunity for participants to learn new materials, skills and content enabling them to help themselves with their own set of learning goals.
“My hope is that we are able to build a stable relationship that allows us to serve more community members in adult basic education and particularly to be able to serve people in such a way that not only helps them and their own educational goals but also helps and supports their children’s education as well,” Harris said.
“We’re really excited about this pilot. It’s a happy marriage of missions among three institutions,” she added.
An informational meeting on the Parent Lab will be held for parents on Monday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. at CPL’s Douglass Branch.
Parent Lab tutors are needed and training is offered through Project READ. Training sessions for the Parent Lab will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 9 a.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 6 p.m.
The Parent Lab, which will be held Monday evenings at 5:30 p.m. from Feb. 4 to May 20 at Booker T. Washington School library, includes a light meal and childcare.
Special sessions will be held on the second Monday of the month at the Douglass Branch Library where families can utilize additional library resources, including career development tools.
For more information, contact Project READ at ProjectREAD@parkland.edu.