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A different kind of home schooling

Teachers work with immigrant parents to help them help their young students catch up. One goal is to prevent future dropouts.

February 25, 2008|Sam Quinones | Times Staff Writer

Jose Hernandez, an administrator at L.A. Unified District 6, which includes Lillian, agreed that school officials had to think outside the box.

"The relationship with the parents has to become stronger . . . where we help them support our reading and math programs," Hernandez said.

But pushing immigrant parents to help their children with schoolwork isn't always easy. Often, they work long hours and come home too tired to help.

Some think "if the kids are going to school, that's enough," said Leti Orozco, a Mexican immigrant and volunteer at Lillian whose daughters attend the school.

Teachers say the students whose parents attended Lillian's limited experiment last fall are more confident and attentive in class.

Nine of Gloria Sigala's students didn't know letters before the workshops. Since then, they have learned most, if not all, of the alphabet. "That's huge," she said.

Meanwhile, Ahern plans more workshops in March to suggest other exercises parents can do with their children.

Ocario Gonzalez and Maria Arellano say they'll be there.

They said Carolina was excited about what she had learned. She now pesters her mother to read to her and help with her ABCs. In the car, they practice by reading letters on billboards and street signs.

"We want her to feel secure that we're with her," Maria said, "and that she has our support."

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