Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Program Opens Doors for Hispanic Parents

The Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors program gives parents the skills to become their child’s first teacher.

This approach mirrors national efforts to improve family engagement, Abriendo Puertas national director Sandra Gutierrez says in the FINE Newsletter from the Harvard Family Research Project.

In the program, parents of children from newborns to age 5 meet for weekly group sessions in which they learn in Spanish and English about topics including the stages of child development, promoting literacy, and health and nutrition.

A survey of parent participants last year by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that they increased their knowledge of early learning and how to help their children be successful in school.

In the newsletter Gutierrez describes the program:

“Every week, Latino parents meet in a support-group setting to strengthen their capacity to be their children’s first and most influential teacher and to make their home their children’s first school, rich with everyday learning experiences. Discussion topics include goal setting, communication, ages and stages of development, promoting literacy, choosing preschool and health care services, nutrition, socioemotional wellness, and advocating for children, families, and communities. These group sessions include activities such as popular games like Abriendo Puertas Loteria (Bingo), as well as references to dichos, or cultural sayings, to reinforce key messages in ways that are engaging and relatable to families.”

She continues, “Parents’ confidence increases when they recognize the power they have as leaders of their families and the extent to which all of their daily decisions profoundly influence the arc of their children’s lives.”