From 2013-2015, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Albany Park Community Center's Family Literacy/ESL program, graduate students from the Erikson Institute, and over 20 amazing families to facilitate free groups for parents and children with and without disabilities, as well as literacy workshops for parents and teachers. We created a popular education program - "for the people, by the people" - that centered parent wisdom, resulting in more confident, connected parents with better access to resources.100% of parents surveyed felt that these bilingual Spanish/English groups helped prepare their children for school! The groups ended due to budget and space constraints, but we miss them, and look forward to the day that we have space and funding to do intergenerational, multilingual organizing again.
"I really liked meeting other families and talking about our concerns. We shared ideas and advice that helped to improve my relationship with my son." - Deysi
"I wish the group happened more than once a week." - Mary
For more information, see the booklet below:
"No one educates anyone else, nor do we educate ourselves. We educate one another in communion, in the context of living in this world.”
If you can teach special ed in a K-12 public school... you can do just about anything. I worked in Chicago Public Schools from 2005-2008 and 2018-2021, with many brilliant young people and their families - writing IEPs, doing data collection & assessment, learning about brain development, trauma-responsive practices & de-escalation strategies, designing intricate classroom environments, sensory supports, assistive technology,and a soothing, regulating class culture full of music, movement, and respect for the magic of silence and rest - not to mention managing a team, mentoring aides, assistants, and new teachers while striving to transcend the hierarchal "supervision" role prescribed by our district.
The transition to virtual education in 2020-21 brought opportunities to collaborate more deeply with my team to cultivate greater parent involvement, providing wrap-around supports for families in crisis, new technologies & curricula tailored to the needs of little ones interfacing with education in very different ways, outdoor events, and a mobile library & supply center.
It's hard to go back to schooling-as-usual after being part of a more authentic, dynamic, family-centered program... so I exiled myself from the system. "Learning loss" is a lie. The old ways are dying. Young people and their families are learning more than ever as they adapt to a changing world, and work to create the world they want to live in.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat... music & movement boost language, motor & social skills, all at once! And rhyme and rhythm help lay the cognitive groundwork for success in reading & math.
Family-Powered Developmental Therapy
You are the expert on your child - and the everyday interactions you have with your child help to wire your child's brain. As pioneering child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan told parents, "You are not the problem. But you can be the solution." My developmental therapy coaching process incorporates deep listening to help you reflect on your parenting, and attune to the needs behind your child's behaviors. This work is rooted in Sensory Integration Theory and DIR / Floortime principles. We have to work from the bottom up - we can't improve cognitive development until we address a child's physical, sensory, emotional and regulatory needs! Through humor, play, music, movement, and subtle but powerful changes to your voice, pacing, and body language, you can help your child can grow in a natural, highly motivating context. Since every family is different, every plan is customized: from helping your child adapt to classroom and social situations, to helping you advocate for your needs at IEP and other team meetings, to integrating technology like iPad communication apps, social stories, video modeling, and visual aids - the possibilities are endless!
This simple, parent-powered practice has been proven to improve sleep, ease colic, improve weight gain for preterm babies, reduce mothers' anxiety and depression, and improve fathers' self-esteem.AsVimala McClure, founder of IAIM, says, "it's an ancient art that connects you deeply with your baby, and it helps you to understand your baby's nonverbal language and respond with love and respectful listening. It empowers you as a parent, for it gives you the means by which you can become an expert on your own child." Through individual coaching sessions in the home, or in small group classes, caregivers can learn to massage their infants in 3-6 sessions. Infant massage helped me beat my own postpartum depression, so I'm especially passionate about passing this skill on to new parents. Giving is receiving - it's remarkable how many parents say, "This is relaxing for me too!" It's enormously helpful for parents who may need extra support forming secure attachments to their children, such as adolescent parents, adoptive and foster parents, and parents living with a disability or mental illness.
For more information, see the SCRIBD booklet below: