As we wrap up this year’s ‘’If You Give a Child a Book’ campaign, we want to draw attention to the increased demand for Central Coast dual immersion programs in local schools, from both native English and Spanish speakers.
For both English and Spanish-speaking children, reading plays a major role in their success.
"The ultimate goal is to have the students leave sixth grade bilingual in English and Spanish," said Rick Mayfield, San Luis Coastal Unified Director of Elementary Learning and Achievement.
Dual immersion programs are growing in San Luis Obispo County, attracting both native Spanish and English-speaking families.
At Georgia Brown Elementary in Paso Robles, a lottery system is used to choose from the growing pool of interested families.
"We have found that within the last five years, that I've been at this school that the need has been equal," said Celia Moses, Georgia Brown Elementary Principal. "A few years ago we made sure that it is a 50/50 program - 50% English, 50% Spanish."
The program at Pacheco Elementary in San Luis Obispo has been around since 1996.
"The demand was so high, including students from the coast who also belong to our school district. That we started a second program at Baywood Elementary three years ago," said Mayfield.
More families are catching on to the value of learning a second language.
"Of course, there are like the cognitive benefits and giving the kids a competitive advantage," said Sandra Desilvia Porter, parent of Pacheco students.
"Jobs these days, they really want people who are bilingual - know a lot of languages," said Marina, 5th grader at Georgia Brown Elementary.
"There's much research that shows that students who are bilingual can actually outperform their peers," said Moses.
Reading plays a huge part in the curriculum, which administrators hope is what will continue at home.
"That's our only homework to do with the kids is just read read read. And if you speak Spanish and you want to read a Spanish book great, but they also emphasize do not speak Spanish to your kids if you don't know Spanish," said Porter.
"We'll take care of the academic work here, but you do need to provide in which the kids can get their homework done and read comfortably," said Mayfield.
"I'm just switching from language to language in books and that really helps with vocabulary," said Marina.
"So it's really just keeping up with reading in general, which has been a good reminder for me to get back to nightly," said Porter.
There is no doubt, that there is a rising interest in planting the dual language seed early, and schools seem to be ready to keep that momentum going.
"Even with all the apps now, for translation and what not, The ability to communicate and express oneself in another language is invaluable," said Mayfield.
Pacheco administrators just finished applying for a dual language grant from the state. Out of 160 applications, only 27 were chosen, Pacheco being one of them.
A portion of those funds will go toward buying bilingual books for the school.
Friday is the last day of KSBY's "If you Give a Child a Book..." campaign. We have raised nearly $37,000 in the past two weeks. Our goal is to raise $40,000, so we are very close to that goal!
To donate, click here. Or text KSBY to 50155.
Arellanes Elementary School, Bonita Elementary, Oceano Elementary and Lillian Larson Elementary will be a part of our "Big Book Giveaway" in January as we partner with Scholastic to turn all the community donations into books for these students in need.