Learning is a family activity for the Even Start program located on the Take Two Academy campus.

Learning is a family activity for the Even Start program located on the Take Two Academy campus.

“The idea is that the family learns together,” Even Start teacher Stacey Steward said. “Then they integrate those things into a home situation.”

Families in the program participate in parent and child together time, parenting classes, an adult education program and personal visits.

Even Start receives federal funding through the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy Program.

Parent and child together time
Each day begins with everyone singing together at circle time. Children learn about different colors and numbers through songs.

Parents have been able to use the songs at home.

“Karion’s favorite color is red, and the song has red fire trucks, so he says ‘truck red,’” Oche Jackson said.

“With Ridge, he knows a few colors and he will see them and want to sing them,” Taylor Miller said.

Circle time also helps new parents remember songs from their childhood that they haven’t sung in a while.

“Normally, I sing to Toby every time before she goes to sleep, and when I can’t think of the songs, I think of circle time,” Drake Minyard said.

Next, the parents go over parenting techniques and information while the children are cared for in the nursery.

Topics include everything from first aid and discipline to cooking and scrapbooking.

“I believe you are a better parent if you feel good about yourself,” Steward said.

Activities such as scrapbooking help the parents not only be creative, but able to record moments with their child.

Tiffany Willis has already begun a scrapbook about her daughter Kimberlyn, including moments such as when she first said the word car.

“I didn’t even know that she knew the word car, but I was ready take a picture,” Willis said.

For people new to the United States, cooking lessons introduce new dishes.

“I like cooking class because I learn the American food,” said Eunsuk Jo, a mother who moved to Ardmore from Korea.

Adult Education
All parents are involved in an adult education component — earning a GED or high school diploma or learning English.

Ashley Termaat joined the program this week in order to work on her GED.

“I’ve always wanted to go back to school, but I have two kids,” Termaat said.

Having the children cared for on-site is helpful for the parents.

“It’s hard to study English when I have kids, but Even Start will watch the kids so I can study and I can practice with the other ladies,” Jo said.

The children are also able to learn and socialize.

“They’ve started to learn Chinese and Korean language, but it is a good opportunity for them to learn English here too,” Jo said.

Personal visits
Steward also visits homes to work with parents one-on-one using the Parents as Teachers curriculum.

“Our mantra is that they are their child’s first teacher,” Steward said.

Visits allow parents to receive one-on-one advice in order to teach parents about child development and increase children’s readiness for school.

“I think this is a good way to educate my son. If I have any questions, I can discuss them with Stacey,” Lin Lin said.

Parents learn skills that help with their child’s educational development.

“I want them to know that they can have effective parenting skills and they are the key to their child’s education even at an early age,” Steward said.

The Even Start program runs Monday through Thursday and is free for participants. Free transportation is also available. To sign up for the program call (580) 221-3030.