Adelante Mujeres Celebrating 10 Years: Part 8 of 10


“Early Childhood Classes Help Mom, Too"
Written by Carrie Schmid

Elide Martinez Román is 6 years old, but she already has a lot of friends. Sometimes she plays babies or Barbies with the “two Kaelys” in her neighborhood. Sometimes she sees her old friends, Genesis and Jazmán, from Adelante Mujeres Early Childhood Education program.

But five years ago, when Elide’s family had recently moved to Hillsboro from Mexico, life was very different, remembers her mother, Araceli Román. “The kids were sad. They didn’t know other kids,” said Román, who has four other children in addition to Elide. “I felt enclosed. I didn’t know people.”
Elide’s blossom to social butterfly began in the ECE program at Adelante Mujeres, said Román, where “she learned to feel bonded and to be a friend.”

This fall, Adelante Mujeres will celebrate the accomplishments of participants like Elide and Román with a special event at the Forest Grove Farmers Market on Sept. 12.

During her five years with the Adelante Mujeres Early Childhood Education program, Elide spent five days a week learning literacy skills from her teachers in her bilingual classroom. She also met weekly with English-speaking volunteers who work with the preschool-aged children at Adelante Mujeres.

“She learned English at the school. It happened really quickly. Now, she can communicate with everyone,” Román said.

In addition to helping her develop the social skills necessary for school, Elide, who will be in the first grade at McKinney Elementary School in Hillsboro next year, also gained important academic skills. They practiced letters, shapes, colors and telling stories through pictures, her mother said.

Getting students ready for kindergarten is a top priority of the Adelante Mujeres ECE program and nearly 100 percent of preschoolers who participate achieve scores above the benchmark on standardized tests, said Francisca Perez, Early Childhood Education Coordinator at Adelante Mujeres.

In the program, Elide “really learned to love class,” Román said. “Right now she’s starting to read. We go to the library and she comes home with her little bag full of books.”

Adelante Mujeres' ECE program provides a variety of educational opportunities for young Latino children and their families.

While Elide attended the ECE program, Román was a participant in the Adult Education program. Adelante Mujeres offers a dual education program for Latina mothers and their children between the ages of one and five. The adults take classes in English, Spanish literature, grammar, math, nutrition, personal development and leadership.

At first, Román was mainly focused on learning English and obtaining her GED, which she did after the first year of the program. It wasn’t until she came back to the program in the fall of 2010 that she became interested in other topics, like parenting.

“At first, I didn’t like it,” said Román of the parenting class. “I said, ‘They’re not going to teach me how to be a mom.’” But then she started to pay attention and pick up tips. “The older ones, they need their time with me. With the little ones, you really have to pay attention when they talk. You have to give them your time.”

She shared these tips with her husband. “We all eat together and we ask (the children), ‘How’s it going for you?’”

Because she had obtained her GED, Román was also able to take classes at Pacific University’s English Language Institute. Adelante Mujeres students who have obtained their GED are invited to attend the Institute’s classes for free. The course is designed to prepare English as a Second Language students to enter Pacific.

Monique Grindell, Academic Coordinator of the English Language Institute, said having Adelante Mujeres students also benefits her program because the students add diversity. “We rarely have Hispanics,” she said. Adelante Mujeres students also live locally, unlike most of Grindell’s students, and “can tell them about things around town,” she said.

“It was lots of homework, lots of writing,” Román remembered of the ELI program. “But it was a good challenge.” And, she added, her children noticed how hard she worked at her studies and it set an example for them.