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Program urges parental involvement in education

February 24, 2003|by NANCY S. GRASMICK

Parental involvement in education matters may very well be the very best investment in the future of Maryland. The Maryland State Department of Education recently launched a campaign, Take 15 for the Family...Building a Lifetime of Learning, that focuses on building awareness of the important role parents play in education and providing fun and easy resources to help parents get more actively involved. It is critical that we reinforce this message in our schools and our communities.

I am thrilled to have the more than 200 Maryland public libraries across the state as partners in this initiative. Every year thousands of families participate in Maryland's public libraries' free programs on topics as varied as reading fun with your infant, using the Internet for homework help, and tracing your family roots. Take 15 for the Family will be a welcome addition to these library programs.

A U.S. Department of Education study showed that family involvement in a child's learning is more important than family income and educational background. Whether you're rich or poor, whether you finished high school or not, whether your child is in preschool, elementary, middle, or high school, you have the power to shape his or her learning.

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And yet national research from Child Trends Inc. shows that only one in two mothers eats dinner with her children every day, and that even fewer fathers do. Take 15 for the Family encourages Maryland families to dedicate at least 15 minutes each day to turning everyday activities, like eating dinner together, into learning opportunities.

Components of the program include:

  • Family Day events at locations across the state, such as public libraries.

  • Take 15 for the Family newsletters, activity sheets, and other free resources for families available in libraries across the state.

  • Newsletters and brochures with helpful tips and activity suggestions distributed to child-care providers, teachers and employers. Articles and activities will be written by experts, such as parents, librarians, reading teachers and specialists in the areas of special education and English as a Second Language.

  • Public service announcements.

  • Web site marylandpublicschools.org, click on the Take 15 logo offering parent tips, activity sheets and more.

  • Cards good for discounts on family-friendly services and products. These can be downloaded from the Web site and will be distributed statewide. Discount partners include companies such as Port Discovery, Pearle Vision, Prime Outlets, the Maryland Science Center and Papa John's Pizza.

  • Contest in which parents share how they are "Taking 15 for the Family." Prizes will include 10 $200 family shopping sprees at Prime Outlets.


For information about Take 15 for the Family....Building a Lifetime of Learning, parents, school system personnel, or interested community members can contact the Maryland State Department of Education's Public Information Line at 410-767-0600 or 888-246-0016 toll free, or log onto marylandpublicschools.org and click on the Take 15 icon.

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