- miss or show up late for lessons without notifying their Program Specialist or volunteer Role Model
- reschedule last minute
- cancel last minute
This behavior occurs despite that fact that every family receives for free:
- tutoring lessons from a volunteer who is donating his or her time
- books based on what their child loves
- a bookcase, backpack, and other educational resources
- a facility full of learning activities for their children to use and borrow
Why would someone who receives so many high quality services and goods not prioritize lesson attendance, punctuality, and timely communication? This type of behavior is widespread within low-income communities and has detrimental consequences for students in school.
There is a $30 million dollar collective effort underway in the San Francisco Bay Area called Big Lift (http://www.thebiglift.org/#home-01). Big Lift is comprised of more than 300 schools, investors, politicians, nonprofits, and businesses that intend to improve 3rd grade reading levels. “Our goal is to achieve a big lift in San Mateo County’s educational outcomes by going from 50% of our children reading proficiently in 3rd grade to 80%.”
The research cited by Big Lift shows that if a child is not proficient in reading by 3rd grade, she is 4 times more likely to drop out before high school graduation. (http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-EarlyWarningConfirmed-2013.pdf). There are four areas to Big Lift’s approach that research cited by them says puts children at risk for school failure:
- High quality preschool: Many children don’t have access to high quality preschool before kindergarten entry.
- Summer programming: Many children don’t participate in learning programs during the summer months during the preschool or grade school years.
- Family engagement: Many parents are not involved in their children’s education.
- School attendance: Many children are chronically absent in the early grades.
These are the areas that Big Lift is focusing its $30 million effort on improving. If they succeed, they expect to see reading proficiency of students rise from 50% to 82%, thus greatly improving children’s odds of making it through grade school.
10BH is making a huge difference in all four Big Lift areas:
- High quality preschool: 10BH serves children during their preschool years (3-5) with one-on-one tutoring lessons designed to cultivate each child’s unique learning motivations into tangible skills, knowledge, and abilities. 10BH’s learning program works with children, their parents, and their siblings in their homes (10BH recommends families enroll in 10BH and preschool).
- Summer programming: 10BH is a year round program. Children enrolled in 10BH receive weekly lessons and support for 2 years until the week they enter kindergarten.
- Family engagement: Parents (and/or the legal caretaker) and siblings participate in 10BH as well as the enrolled Learners. Caregivers learn how to support their children’s love of learning and children learn how to turn their homes into learning ecosystems.
- School attendance: 10BH looks at the full two years families are enrolled as the window of opportunity for parents to improve lesson attendance. 10BH has developed a number of strategies and techniques to encourage families to prioritize lessons over time.
10BH knows that change doesn’t happen overnight. As it pertains to lesson attendance, encouraging the family to improve attendance requires patience as the family establishes a new habit over time.
As for Role Models, 10BH’s attendance practices require them to remember that even if they show up to an empty home Role Models are helping 10BH spot and address a critical challenge. This in and of itself is an achievement that Role Models can hang their hats on.
But, 10BH doesn’t maintain any illusions. This can be a no fun process for a Role Model to go through. The volunteer is giving back, right!? But, what differentiates 10BH from so many other volunteer opportunities is that Role Models are making a transformative difference just by showing up every week. Most volunteer-based organizations cannot make this claim.
The way 10BH likes to think about its work is in this way: If families were always punctual, consistent, involved, and responsive, 10BH would not be in existence very long. With that said, this then becomes a reason for our existence!
For evidence of 10BH’s impact, visit: www.10bh.org/mission
Related readings by 10BH:
Positive effects of bilingual language development before age 5 (located at www.10bh.org/news)