Here’s how Norfolk Public Schools prepare their ESL families for the school year

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pexels)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pexels)

NORFOLK — Families with children who speak English as a second language have the opportunity to attend the school district’s English Learner Family Academy to help learn the skills needed to succeed.

This is the first year the school district has offered the program, said Meredith Hobson, senior coordinator of Foreign Language and ESL programs.

“We are teaching parents how to best support their child at school,” she said.

The program’s target audience is children and their immigrant parents and the classes are primarily taught in Spanish, Hobson said.

Parents will take six courses on subjects ranging from child nutrition, how to access grades and course information online, practicing parent-teacher conferences and learning about their rights as a parent from the police department.

The sessions are about two-and-a-half hours each on either Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays.

“Some parents struggle because they haven’t had a lot of academic support prior to the classes,” Hobson said.

A major goal of the program is to let the parents network with each other, she added.

Hobson said the district wants to see the parents come together and form an ESL community to help each other during the school year.

“We’d like to have an ESL ambassador to bring us questions and concerns on behalf of the other families in the future,” she said.

Parents are encouraged to ask questions and share their concerns during each session in addition to learning about the topics for that day.

While the first session has already passed, there are still several sessions left to register for, Hobson said.

The classes are free to take as they are funded by the school district and free childcare and snacks are provided.

Parents who successfully complete the courses will get to check out a Chromebook to use during the school year for keeping up with their child’s academics, she said.

“We want to give parents the tools they need to make sure their child is not just succeeding academically but is being taken care of as a whole,” Hobson said.

To register for the courses or find out more information click here, email ESLsupport@nps.k12.va.us or call the ESL office at 757-852-4630, ext. 3514.

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