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Their Children’s First Teachers: Latino Parents Targeted In Early Education Efforts

Most middle class parents don’t need to be told that they are their children’s first teachers, and that the job starts at birth or even earlier. In poor communities, however, that knowledge is not necessarily a given. Latino immigrants particularly tend to trust the public school system to provide their children with the education they need, beginning in kindergarten, according to advocates and studies. Their role is to keep their babies safe, clean, well-fed and loved –– an attitude that can lead to children being nurtured but starting school irreparably behind.

Here in Logan Square, a primarily Latino neighborhood in northwest Chicago, a grassroots community organizing effort is helping immigrant mothers to educate their friends, relatives and neighbors about early learning. Eight women –– seven Mexican and one Colombian –– are now leading organized playgroups as well as 10-week classes where parents and children learn simultaneously in different rooms.