|ELIZABETH HIGH SCHOOL FOR TEEN MOMS WINS AWARDS|
MONTREAL, AUGUST 18, 2014 – Elizabeth High School, which caters to teenage moms, recently won awards both regionally and provincially for their literacy program called the Mother- Child Circle, notes a proud head teacher Louise Chalouh.
Based in Ville Émard and part of the English Montreal School Board, Elizabeth High is the only English-language school of its kind in Quebec. It offers a safe learning space for teenage mothers and pregnant teens, with small student-to-teacher ratios and a daycare on-site for children up to 18 months. The school is affiliated with the non-profit organization, Elizabeth House, where some of the young women live. The goal of the early literacy program is to make the students become comfortable reading, singing and rhyming with their children. “We believe this program will go a long way in helping the mothers build language and pre-reading skills in their children, thus giving the children an advantage when they start school,” says Ms. Chalouh, noting that the program has two components: a lending library and a story-time circle.
The library is housed in an accessible cabinet in a central part of the school. This new collection includes books for students to read with their children at school and at home. In June 2013, this collection was carefully chosen by a team including the English Language Arts teacher, a daycare educator, two language consultants, and a librarian. The books are developmentally appropriate (including nursery rhymes, concepts, predictable and wordless books, etc.), provide a balance of classics, award-winners and well-reviewed titles, and come in a variety of formats (touch and feel, board book, lift-the-flap, hardcover picture book, etc.) The school teaching staff and daycare educators encourage the students to read with their children by creating time during the day and comfortable spaces whereby the mothers can bond with their children through reading.
The story-time circle is offered by a librarian from the Pedagogical Services Department between once and twice a month. Teaching staff permit the students with children who attend daycare off-site to travel during their lunch hour and bring their children back to the school for the afternoon program. During this 20-minute activity, the children sit on their mothers’ laps and follow-along as the librarian sings and recites songs, finger-plays, bounces and action rhymes, and reads simple stories or word books. With each session, the students are becoming increasingly comfortable participating in the group. After the program, the students linger to read with their children and interact with one another and their children.
Michael J. Cohen