ECATUR — French Academy was bursting at the seams with the number of parents in attendance for Family Reading Day on Thursday, and that makes Principal Rolanda McKenzie very happy.
“We can’t do this alone,” she said. “We want parents in the school.”
Past efforts to hold a math night or other event drew little interest. McKenzie said it is so imperative for parents to work with their kids at home to encourage reading that she talked it over with her staff and they decided to try an afternoon event.
A lot of parents visit the school over the course of a typical day, she said, and apparently daytime events are more convenient for French families.
Recent test scores showed that reading comprehension was a challenge in all grade levels, and McKenzie wanted to devote the event to showing parents how to work with their children to improve their skills.
“How do we make it fun, how do we make it interactive, how do we make it simple so that they will be confident to do that with their child?” McKenzie said.
She also knew to get the most parents to come that the children had to have a stake in it, too. So she offered an incentive: Every child who convinced an adult to attend will receive a sticker good for a nonuniform day on Feb. 1. If a family has several children enrolled in the school, one adult could represent all the children.
That wasn’t necessary in the case of Serenity and Erionna, whose mother, Gwen Roundtree, spent the day in one classroom, while her 21-year-old daughter, Clarissa Peck-Roundtree, spent the day in the other child’s class. Peck-Roundtree is in college studying nursing, and the younger girls look up to their big sister and want to be like her, Gwen Roundtree said.
“You have to set an example for your children,” Roundtree said. “When parents and kids interact at school, you can learn what they’re learning, and then you’re able to help them at home.”
Teaching methods are different now than when she was in school, Roundtree said, so she wants to see the way teachers present the material now, so as not to confuse the girls when she helps them at home.
Chamica Demus sees to it that her 8-year-old son, Rashaad Jones, reads every day. She lets him choose the books, either something he’s studying at school or a library book, but she has a rule.
“As long as it doesn’t have too many pictures,” she said. “It has to have more words than pictures.”