Family Literacy Program

Every time I went to the hospital for check-ups with my two children, I used to ask for a translator. I’m now confident enough to recognize I understand most of what the doctors tell me in English.

– Andrea, mother of two, participant of ESL Intermediate Class


The Family Literacy program is our major area of focus within the program area of Family Literacy. This program aims to support families to develop their full potential while delivering developmental appropriate services to children from age zero to five and their parents in the Columbia Heights and Brookland areas.  The uniqueness of this program can be found in the mutual involvement of both adults and young kids. Both parents and children come to class from Monday to Thursday and are involved in simultaneous schedules.While the adults participate in our different adult components, their children are in one of the two Early Childhood sections.These schedules meet for thirty minutes, twice a week, for our Interactive Learning Activities (ILA) time.

Every semester TFP offers two time slots for its Family Literacy Program’s components: one in the morning from 9:00 am to 12:30 am, and one if the afternoon from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm. The morning class includes all participants with intermediate English and computer skills, while the afternoon class is for those participants who are just beginning to learn English and how to use a computer. Each adult class counts an average of 20 students.

Each month, morning and afternoon adult and young students join the Family Literacy team for field trip and monthly parties. These events are aimed to help our participants become comfortable with some special place in the community, such as the local Library, and the local Fire Department.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Throughout the year, The Family Place holds two levels of English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction classes offered on-site: a beginning and intermediate class. Registrations are take place at the beginning of each semester; August, January, and June. With an average of 20 students per class, our ESL class has a long waiting list of students from other programs offered at The Family Place. Each month students are exposed to a variety of subjects in accordance to the Family Literacy program’s theme schedule, and are able to practice verbal communication through reading, writing, singing, even acting, and more. Students are also able to practice their computer skills with weekly-programmed activities in the computer room. For some of our students this is the very first time using a computer but the visible progresses go hand in hand with the palpable enthusiasm.

Classes are dynamic and student-oriented in order to be effective with the various learning abilities present in class. The ESL classes offered at TFP are aimed to help students create a strong base and strengthen their English competence in order to communicate and function in English in their community. At the same time, ESL instruction is tailored to help parents understand school communications in order to support their children throughout their education.

To see our Adult ESL students’ progress in class, please visit The Family Place YouTube channel.

Early Childhood Education (ECE)

… I brought my husband with me to the parent-teacher conference so that he could speak with Karla’s teachers and understand how important it is for her to be in [the Infants and Toddlers] class everyday. Ana, mother of two

The Family Place offers two early childhood classes: the Infant and Toddler class (from age 2 months to 2 years of age) and the Preschool class (from 2 to 4 years of age). The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers and Twos and the Creative Curriculum for Pre-School is used and adapted to fit the individual needs of the students.  Activities are created to foster the optimal development in various areas: gross motor skills, general cognitive skills, language development, emergent literacy and number skills, positive attitude towards learning, social behavior, and English acquisition.  While the ultimate goal for our young students is to ease their transition to our Pre-School room, another outside center, or the DC Public School system, our ECE educators know that a significant part is supporting parents as well. While some of our adult participants are surely attracted to The Family Place because of the child care component, they quickly learn the importance and benefits for their children to be in class. These parents usually become advocates of the Early Child Education program and refer other parents from the community to our classes so their children may also benefit from early education.

Parenting Class

Parenting class is an integrative component of our Family Literacy Program. During this one-hour a week class time, participants have the time to reflect on their role as parents. One of the main goals in this culturally sensitive class is to help parents understand the importance and power of their role in their children’s life and future.  Students are invited to share their childhood experiences and parenting experiences, and are then introduced to best parenting practices.  Topics covered in class include the US educational system, the importance of reading at an early age, nutrition, discipline, and the impact of early education. One of the most sensitive topics is discipline; through the help of speakers from the community, group activities, surveys, and the mediation of the teacher, students are involved in a sometimes emotional itinerary that leads them to view their role as primary caregivers as a great opportunity to reconsider educational practices and embrace positive discipline.

Interactive Learning Activities (ILA)

The Interactive Learning Activities (ILA) component of the Family Literacy Program is a very rewarding time for the adult and child to learn together.  ILA is offered at The Family Place twice a week, for a total of an hour a week, and during this time parents join their children in the ECE classroom to do an educational activity that can be easily remodeled at home. These are parent-lead activities, and the educators are present to introduce the activity and support the learning process. Activities include but are not limited to singing, reading, fine and gross-motor skill activities, working on month long projects with the preschoolers, etc. By soliciting the parent’s role in leading the activities, adult participants gain a better understanding of their child’s development. Supported by the ECE educators, parents learn what they can do to help their children develop certain skills and nourish their interests. At the same time, children enjoy this special time completely dedicated to spending quality time with their parents, and look forward to it as a time for bonding with their main caretaker. Participants that don’t have children on-site spend ILA time in class participating in the Parent Support Group mediated by one of the Family Literacy Program teachers.  During this time, parents share about their experience of having older children in other educational centers or the DC Public School system.