Amarillo refugee families benefit from education program helping them prepare their children for school

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) – A local education program helps parents who speak little or no English contribute to their children’s education.

Mission Amarillo’s ParentChild + program started a new semester this week, and for the first time, all participating families are refugees.

Like many immigrant parents, Far Tial’s goal is to ensure that her son Joseph has a better quality of life. So, wanting to help her succeed in school, she enrolled in the ParentChild + program of the Amarillo mission.

“I want him to learn a lot and be smarter,” Tial said.

Tial says that during these two years, Joseph learned to be respectful, his ABCs, shapes, colors and numbers.

She adds that being able to do the sessions at home, with a specialist who spoke her mother tongue, put her and Joseph at ease.

“He didn’t socialize people when he was little, so I was worried,” Tial said.

It is because of this comfortable feeling that the program has become particularly popular among refugee families.

“It really helps moms because they’re also trying to learn English; they are learning English with their children, ”said Christy Jalbert, Director of the ParentChild + program. “They are at the same level, they are able to learn a lot of the same things.”

Families can enroll in the program with children as young as 16 months old and will receive a 30-minute home visit twice a week for two years from an early learning specialist who provides books and toys free to work on engagement strategies.

“I’ve talked to a lot of preschool teachers and learned what kinds of things they need kids to know before they get into preschool,” Jalbert said. “Sure, it’s little things like colors and shapes, those things are important, but it’s a lot of social skills like how to sit and listen to a book, how to turn the pages of a book, how to wait patiently. their turn, how to take turns and share, just a lot of these social interactions.

The program is free for families who meet the income requirements.

Languages ​​available include Chin, Karen, and Burmese.

“We love to hire moms who have participated in our program,” Jalbert said. “They go through the program for two years, then we hire them and they go through the program for people in their language.”

ParentChild + is also available for English speaking families and is actually looking for a handful of those families to join this semester.

“These kids, their brains are growing so fast from zero to five years old. They make 700 neural connections every second and their little brains are growing so fast that I think parents don’t realize how important it is to involve children in learning at this age, ”Jalbert said.

Joseph is now four years old and thriving in pre-K.

Tial is now working to become an instructor herself and help other families.

If you would like to apply, send an email to

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