Several Hilliard parents shared classroom time with their children last week in an effort to improve the students' reading skills.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Hilliard City Schools used a federal grant to offer the four-day Summer Reading Program for students from six elementary schools: Avery, Beacon, Britton, Brown, J.W. Reason and Horizon.
Students could enroll in the program for free, and the grant money funded the Hilliard teachers' salaries for the program.
"We think the best way to help some of our at-risk students is to engage our parents," said Jacki Prati, principal of J.W. Reason Elementary School.
Prati wrote the curriculum for the Summer Reading Program six years ago.
About 120 students participated in this year's program from July 28-31 at J.W. Reason Elementary School.
Parents and their children had a catered dinner prior to the 60-minute sessions and child care was provided.
"We begin with teachers working with parents in one classroom while their children are in another classroom," Prati said. "Then we join the parents with their children so the parents can practice what they learned."
Among the families attending the Summer Reading Program were Jorge and Yuli Montilva. Their son, Diego, is entering kindergarten at J.W. Reason Elementary School.
The Montilva family members speak Spanish in the home and they want Diego to be bilingual, Jorge Montilva said.
"We speak Spanish and this class helps us learn English (better), too. I'm learning a lot about how to teach (Diego)," Jorge Montilva said.
The classes are particularly helpful with learning accents, he said.
Yuli Montilva said the techniques she and her husband learned would help them at home with Diego and their 9-month-old son, Sebastian.
Among the teachers instructing the Summer Reading Program was Kelly Hoenie, a literacy coach and intervention teacher.
"A large part of this program is to teach parents to effectively work with their kids at home," Hoenie said. "We want to train them on how to work with a child the same way we work with students in the classroom."