Toyota Family Learning: East Side House’s Family Immersion

East Side House Settlement in Bronx, NY, kicked off its second year of Toyota Family Learning late September at Mott Haven Public Library.

“We had a wonderful experience! There was a full house with 20 families, 4 returning families, and 33 children,” ESH Parent Educator Diana Rodriguez said about the 2014 Family Immersion. She and her team expect more families to enroll in Mott Haven Family STARS during the upcoming weeks.

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The Toyota Family Learning initiative, led by NCFL and funded by Toyota, intends to build the next-generation model for families learning together by involving all family members in more language and literacy activities, technology, service learning projects, school engagement, and community awareness. As five of our sites enter their second year, we look forward to continuing with the momentum and successes realized last year.

While the Mott Haven Family STARS adults immersed themselves in Parent Time, their children (ages 3-12) engaged in Maker Activities from Camp Wonderopolis: Bridging the Canyon, Baking Soda Fizzing fun, and Rockets Away.

“The children were happy to be actively engaged in hands-on activities and use their imagination. They tested different materials for the experiments and were surely excited to work with the balloons and marshmallows (in place of gumdrops).”

Rodriguez said this year’s group of Mott Haven Family STARS are energized and ready to get involved. Readily sharing ideas, opinions, and expressing their gratitude for the opportunity and space in which to grow together as a community, the parents’ discussion of community concerns and highlights  revolved around many ideas:

  • Health and Wellness: Parents are concerned about the time spent in front of a screen and how to incorporate more physical activities for their children.
  • Nutrition: Parents want to improve the diets of their children and the foods they are exposed to.
  • School Readiness: Parents want to know how to talk to their children to help support literacy and homework.
  • Safety and Positive Relationships with Community Helpers: Parents are concerned with the recent negative media attention to police officers and hope children establish positive relationships with officers from early in their lives.
  • Sanitation of the Community: Parents are very concerned about the amount of garbage along the sidewalks and in parks.
  • Positive Discipline: Parents are seeking new ways to discipline their children positively as they shed cultural ties of how to raise a child.
  • Serving the Community as a Family: Parents want their children to recognize the importance of giving back and helping the community.
  • Bullying: Parents are concerned their children will not speak out against mistreatment or bullying in the schools and were interested in how to address this issue.

NCFL Image“The conversations were rich and motivational,” Rodriguez said. “For this year, we want to build the relationships among families and community partners and empower families to collaborate to effect change for their community and future.”

The vision for Toyota Family Learning is much more than a specific program or model. We believe it will become a modern-day movement for families learning together and a harbinger for families mentoring other families to learn and achieve together. Toyota Family Learning also will be a visible partner in environmental stewardship, financial literacy, volunteerism, and civic engagement.

Toyota Family Learning, a 6-year nationwide initiative led by NCFL, was created to address educational needs and provide opportunities for low-income and ethnically-diverse families to roll up their sleeves and build stronger communities. NCFL knows that when children and families solve community issues together, they are simultaneously learning and applying 21st century college and career readiness skills.