Parents learn to jump start education

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

Ready To Learn workshops are helping to jump start children’s education in Eastern New Mexico.

Improving a child’s learning skills and vocabulary at an early age are two of the reasons that Isabel Zupancic, the Ready To Learn coordinator, conducts the workshops, a service of the Public Broadcasting System.

The workshops show parents and guardians how to incorporate all kinds of activities with the PBS children’s programs, Zupancic said.

PBS programming is broadcast throughout eastern New Mexico from KENW at Eastern New Mexico University.

“The goal of the workshop is to connect the adult and child in an interactive education activity. It is a great feeling when a child remembers the time you spent learning with them,” Zupancic said.

“In the workshop we will work on a creative activity with the adult,” Zupancic said. “In that activity we encourage the adult to identify all the parts of the project as they would with a child.”

For example, the activity can be educational to children when you ask them to identify the colors, shapes and items used in a project. Zupancic said.

Each workshop participant receives free story books for their children and a PBS Families publication in English and Spanish.

The Ready to Learn workshop emphasizes that PBS offers, Monday through Friday, 6.5 hours of non-violent, commercial free, educational children’s television programming. Ready To Learn has an annual budget of $30,000. Half is provided through a U.S. Department of Education grant that is matched by KENW.

Over the past four months there have been at least 16 workshops and three informational presentations to service organizations like the Elks or Kiwanis, Zupancic said. She has presented workshops in Roswell, Hobbs and travels throughout the state for workshop presentations.

“TV is here to stay and we encourage adults to view it responsibly with their children,” Zupancic said. “PBS programming promotes learning and skills that will help in a child’s educational development.”

Ninety percent of television watched by children is programming designed for adults. Saturday morning and after school cartoons have an average of 26 acts of violence every hour, Zupancic said.

Parents are encouraged to reinforce the learning triangle which is view, read and do, Zupancic said.

They can do that by having a reading activity that incorporates a educational TV program they just watched with their child and a creative activity that helps to bring it all together, she said.

“In a child’s early ages, we need multi-sensory tools to help teach them,” Zupancic said. “A child will retain 20 percent of what they hear, 40 percent of what they see and hear and will retain 80 percent of what they see, hear and do.”

Ready To Learn workshops are free to participants. For upcoming workshop dates and to schedule a workshop, call Isabel Zupancic at 562-2112 or 1-888-367-5369.