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  February 25, 2015
How do we begin to meet the literacy needs of young children in refugee families?

Our ideas began in a meeting with refugee families and church leaders, as the need for engaging parents as well as their children, was established. Many of these families come from refugee camps where survival was the primary goal. Therefore, when they come to the United States, the children may not be prepared as they enter school. Thus, the idea of "Ready for School" was born.



Karen Morrow, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) Field Personnel, has a heart for refugee families, especially in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She knows firsthand the need to help parents prepare their children for school in the United States. Her knowledge and connections with refugee families and churches provided the backdrop of a pilot program for "Ready for School." In a collaborative effort with Literacy Connexus, Jana Marbut-Ray (a retired elementary school principal), Caroline Bell (a retired kindergarten teacher), and Karen, a curriculum was developed to provide parents with some basic skills needed for their preschool children to enter American schools at ages 4 and 5. The curriculum was built around literature for the families to have at home.

Jana Marbut-Ray leading a session 


The 10 week pilot program occurred this past fall. Our desire was to meet the families where they lived, so we met in an apartment complex clubhouse in the Fort Worth area with a high population of refugees. We wanted the parent or caregiver and the children to attend together for maximum benefit. Each week during our 45 minute class, we introduced or reviewed a book and worked on basic math, motor, and social skills with the children and parents. There was also a parenting skill introduced each week. We found that the program works best with similar people/language groups and the use of a translator. The idea is for the children to grasp concepts while being exposed to English. More English skills for the children will come as they enter school in an ESL classroom with basic skills learned in the "Ready for School" project.


Caroline Bell (L) and Karen Morrow (R) 

Even though the numbers were low, we could see the value in the curriculum and the progress made by the parents and children. There were some families that came each week, ready to learn many of the skills. At our last meeting, the families enjoyed a modified version of the Books for the Border and Beyond project. They decorated a bookcase and took more books home for their very own library. Now they had a place to put all of their books!

The next step is to provide access to the "Ready for School" curriculum to churches and organizations through the Literacy Connexus website. We desire this curriculum to be a tool for those who work with second language speakers. It could work as a standalone project--as we did with the pilot project--or with existing ESL classes where children could practice skills and where the parent skills could be integrated into the ESL class.  


Our prayer is for children and families to have success in school as they continue their journey in our United States of America!


Karen Morrow

Jana Marbut-Ray

Caroline Bell


P.S. Look for us at the Literacy Connexus table at the Metroplex Literacy Conference at Dallas Baptist University this Saturday! We would love to meet you!


I joined Literacy Connexus . . .


Today marks the 100th Literacy Connexus newsletter arriving in your inbox.


Thank you, Pam Moore, for your excellent work in crafting these every-other-week reminders of the work that is taking place by and through churches in helping people with literacy needs.


Thank you, loyal readers, for reading these missives and for responding in many different ways. We appreciate you and depend on you.

Three days away . . . 

Look for our display at the Metroplex Literacy Conference on Saturday.

Lester will present Using the Bible in Literacy at 9:00.
Our Nuts over Reading session will be at 1:45.

Lester Meriwether, Executive Director 

Offices at Henderson Hall - Agape Baptist Church

3954 Southwest Blvd., Fort Worth, TX  76116


Mailing/shipping address:

3020 S. Cherry Lane, #123168

Fort Worth, TX  76121

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Pam Moore, Editor   

Trivia Challenge 
1. In Japan it's hakushon; in Poland it's a-psik; and in Germany it's hatschi.  These words all refer to:


a) a baby


b) a sneeze


c) the family pet


d) what's for dinner 


2. In the Philippines, balut is a favorite delicacy served by street vendors, in upscale restaurants, and everywhere in-between. It is: 


a) a developing duck embryo, boiled alive and eaten whole from its shell


b) fruit bats with ginger and onions


c) locusts cooked with sugar and soy sauce


d) stink bugs, ground and mixed with chili paste    

3. In Dutch, knickerbacker  is a name for someone who: 


a) bakes clay marbles


b) enjoys outdoor recreation


c) is in the stage between childhood and adulthood


d) is hard-headed 



Problem accessing  the answers? Reply to this email and we'll shoot them your way.  

These instructional links may help: 


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