News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, May 22, 2012
GROVETOWN, Ga. -- New research shows some Hispanic children starting kindergarten sometimes struggle to keep up in school if they aren't used to hearing English at home.
Our local YMCA received a grant from YUSA to begin a language program helping kids in Grovetown.
The goal of the The Early Learning Readiness Program is to help kids become bilingual. Toddlers are taking two-hour courses twice a week to start learning English this summer.
"Many of these children have caregivers who speak mostly Spanish," explained Program Director Elaine Cupp.
She and Martha Pastrana instruct the young children, encouraging bilingual education at home, too.
"We had children come in here who were speaking no English at all. Now, it's amazing they're picking it up. And how quickly they are," Cupp said.
With cutbacks in Georgia education budgets, getting into Pre-K programs can be challenging.
"Some of them will not be able to attend Pre-K," Cupp said. "So we're hoping the work we do here will carry through so that they will be ready for kindergarten when they attend school."
Omayra Delrio says her 2-year-old daughter Isiris was one of the five children who started the program back on March 26.
Isiris is already proud to share her English skills.
"For sure she is learning because whenever she gets home, she starts, 'Mama, red! Mama, black!' She's telling me all this new stuff she's learning every single day," Delrio said.
Cupp said the Hispanic population is growing about 5 percent on average annually. In Grovetown, that number grew over 13 percent in one year.
"The children were coming to kindergarten, but they were not ready for school," Cupp said.
Pastrana says the parents and caregivers who are bringing their children to Early Learning Readiness are also picking up stronger English language skills.
"They stay here the two hours the kids are here and they participate with the kids. They share that quality time with them."
It's quality time the YMCA center in Grovetown is opening to anyone who wants their children to learn Spanish and English. Cupp says while the program targets Hispanic children, anyone is welcome to sign up.
The free program is twice a week. You can choose Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Their summer program begins on June 4 for older kids wanting free tutoring. To sign up or get information, call Elaine and Martha at (706) 922-9619.