Families Read and Succeed Together at CMNAug 17th, 2015 | By Kelli Chelberg | Category: 27-1: Tribal College Communities, Tribal College News
Two Saturday mornings a month, you will find some of the very youngest members of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin attending college. They and their parents are part of the College of Menominee Nation’s (CMN’s) “College 4 Kids” program that meets in the S. Verna Fowler Academic Library on CMN’s main campus in Keshena. College 4 Kids is an opportunity for children from newborn to age eight to share literacy-based activities with their parents, professional educators, and CMN students who are preparing to be teachers.
The curriculum includes reading, finger plays, rhymes, songs, and arts and crafts, with many themes focused on tribal traditions, community, and lifestyles. On one Saturday in March, seasonal maple sugar-making was the topic. Kids learned about sopomahteksewakametaew (maple syrup), made maple leaf crafts with their parents, practiced finger plays and songs, and sampled local maple syrup on their pan cakes while a parent read the book, If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
Engaging parents with children in early literacy experiences is the program’s primary goal. At the same time, community members learn about the college’s many resources, including its libraries, and CMN’s teacher education students gain practical hands-on experience engaging with children and parents.
Does the program work? Parents answer in the affirmative, including one who wrote, “The Saturday events are something that my son completely looks forward to. Often now when we’re going somewhere he wears a College 4 Kids tshirt with pride and packs his book bag with his favorite books to take along. He tells me, ‘Mom, I’m part of College 4 Kids. I belong!’” The program is helping establish the idea that a college campus is the place for lifelong learning where everyone belongs, whether the learner is aged 3, 18, or 43. It is also demonstrating that the family that reads together succeeds together.
CMN’s College 4 Kids is supported by a grant from the American Indian College Fund’s Ke’ Early Childhood Initiative: Strengthening Systems of Shared Responsibility among Families, Schools, and Communities. The initiative is generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.