Reading as an Eagle County family | VailDaily.com

Reading as an Eagle County family

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyLiteracy Project board member Jan Attoma, left, and Lilia Escalante, right, laugh as Lilia's son, Kevin Mayorga's, 3, plays with cars during the Family Literacy preschool class at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” While Lilia Escalante takes English classes at Colorado Mountain College, her young son and daughter, Kimberly and Kevin, are just a few rooms away, taking a class of their own.

It’s a small preschool where the kids play games, color pictures and read books together ” all preparing for the world of kindergarten. Escalante’s goal is to learn enough English so she can take different courses at Colorado Mountain College, and she likes that her children are nearby and learning.

“When I am in class, they are learning what they need before they go to kindergarten,” Escalante said.

Escalante and her kids are in the Family Literacy Program, a partnership between Colorado Mountain College and the Literacy Project, a local non-profit that provides tutoring programs for children and adults who need help with reading.

The idea is to create an environment where young children see their parents enjoying school and making education a priority, thus instilling in those children a love of learning early in their lives, said Jan Attoma, a Literacy Project board member.

At the same time, those kids are preparing themselves for school.

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“They can help the students be more successful in school, while the parents learn English,” Attoma said. “It gets them excited about school.”

Adults who sign up for English as a second language classes or GED classes at Colorado Mountain College can sign their kids up for free “kindergarten preparation classes.” The program is also held at Avon Elementary and Gypsum Elementary on Tuesday and Thursday nights, where classes are also offered to kids up to age 10.

The preschool classes, more than anything, helps students get used to being in a place without their mother and interacting with kids, said Kristal Bertonneau, coordinator for the Family Literacy Program.

“A lot of that is getting used to being with other children ” the social development of a child is the number one factor of success for children,” Bertonneau said. “When they walk into school the first day, they know how to stand in line with other children, sit at a table with other children and work on projects together. It’s getting them used to those daily actives.”

The preschool mixes its time between organized reading actives and “free play” time.

“A child picking their own activity and playing is the best way for them to learn,” Bertonneau said.

Rosario Gonzalez has been in the program for about a year, and can see the difference English classes are making in her life, and how the preschool is helping her children.

“I’m studying spelling, reading, writing ” it helps me live better. I can talk with everyone, find a better job, help my children in school,” Gonzalez said.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.