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A, B, C and D is for 'Dad'

Sept. 22, 2004 – Would you believe the sound of a man's voice reading a book has more power to a child than a female voice? It's true, according to Sally Anderson, executive director of the Vermont Center for the Book.
Anderson was on St. Thomas this week training men and women on the new Mother Goose programs to bring language and literacy to the forefront of young lives.
"When I say language and literature, I'm talking about a life skill," said Anderson. "You have to start early, use it often, use complex vocabulary, and make sure kids understand the world around them."
Anderson developed the Mother Goose programs to teach those skills to adults. Working with the Virgin Islands Institute for Teaching and Learning since 1996, Anderson trains volunteers from St. Thomas to teach parents, grandparents, day-care workers and Head Start providers how to be more effective when reading to children.
The focus of the most recent training program, Especially for Dads, is to get more men involved. Five of the 15 participants in Wednesday's training session were dads and grandfathers ready to take on that role.
"It makes a big difference," said J.J. Estemac, a grandfather and an active member of Friends of the Library, a literacy program on St. Thomas. "There's a particular influence a male image has on a child. There's a loss of male role models in general, but especially in the African-American community. I'm trying to pick up the slack." Estemac said he plans to use what he learned to influence other men to read to their children.
Wayne Anderson, a dad who is also the assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice of the Virgin Islands, attended one of the first Mother Goose programs a few years ago. "It helped me to learn valuable techniques to read to my daughter. I got to read books and see them through my daughter's eyes. I thought it was very thought provoking and informative," he said.
Now Anderson is back again, this time hoping to take his knowledge to his church and share it with other dads. "As men, we provide food, clothing, and a roof, but it's more than that. You've got to take the time."
Anderson began the training session by reading a book to the adults gathered in the room, and then generated a discussion based on the illustrations, perspectives and lessons in the book. "I wanted them to have the experience that they would then be giving to children or other adults, so they would have the knowledge of looking at pictures carefully, hearing the story, then engaging conversations from the story and their own experiences," she said.
This was the first training session men were specifically invited to attend, and Karen Gutloff, Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Institute for Teaching and Learning, said she was pleased with the turnout. "I know it will be slow process to build the team of men that we need because we are not accustomed to having fathers drawn into an educational experience," Gutloff said. "I expect to draw small numbers at first, but when they take it back into the community, more men will get involved."
The women who participated in the training program will train others as well. Patricia Varlack, education supervisor for the Head Start program, said she will encourage parents to take a more active role with reading to their children.
The next step is for the V.I. Institute for Teaching and Learning to set up workshops, where the newly trained instructors will share their new knowledge with members of the community. Gutloff said the free workshops will begin sometime in the fall. For more information, call the V.I. Institute for Teaching and Learning at 777-7030.
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Sept. 22, 2004 – Would you believe the sound of a man's voice reading a book has more power to a child than a female voice? It's true, according to Sally Anderson, executive director of the Vermont Center for the Book.
Anderson was on St. Thomas this week training men and women on the new Mother Goose programs to bring language and literacy to the forefront of young lives.
"When I say language and literature, I'm talking about a life skill," said Anderson. "You have to start early, use it often, use complex vocabulary, and make sure kids understand the world around them."
Anderson developed the Mother Goose programs to teach those skills to adults. Working with the Virgin Islands Institute for Teaching and Learning since 1996, Anderson trains volunteers from St. Thomas to teach parents, grandparents, day-care workers and Head Start providers how to be more effective when reading to children.
The focus of the most recent training program, Especially for Dads, is to get more men involved. Five of the 15 participants in Wednesday's training session were dads and grandfathers ready to take on that role.
"It makes a big difference," said J.J. Estemac, a grandfather and an active member of Friends of the Library, a literacy program on St. Thomas. "There's a particular influence a male image has on a child. There's a loss of male role models in general, but especially in the African-American community. I'm trying to pick up the slack." Estemac said he plans to use what he learned to influence other men to read to their children.
Wayne Anderson, a dad who is also the assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice of the Virgin Islands, attended one of the first Mother Goose programs a few years ago. "It helped me to learn valuable techniques to read to my daughter. I got to read books and see them through my daughter's eyes. I thought it was very thought provoking and informative," he said.
Now Anderson is back again, this time hoping to take his knowledge to his church and share it with other dads. "As men, we provide food, clothing, and a roof, but it's more than that. You've got to take the time."
Anderson began the training session by reading a book to the adults gathered in the room, and then generated a discussion based on the illustrations, perspectives and lessons in the book. "I wanted them to have the experience that they would then be giving to children or other adults, so they would have the knowledge of looking at pictures carefully, hearing the story, then engaging conversations from the story and their own experiences," she said.
This was the first training session men were specifically invited to attend, and Karen Gutloff, Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Institute for Teaching and Learning, said she was pleased with the turnout. "I know it will be slow process to build the team of men that we need because we are not accustomed to having fathers drawn into an educational experience," Gutloff said. "I expect to draw small numbers at first, but when they take it back into the community, more men will get involved."
The women who participated in the training program will train others as well. Patricia Varlack, education supervisor for the Head Start program, said she will encourage parents to take a more active role with reading to their children.
The next step is for the V.I. Institute for Teaching and Learning to set up workshops, where the newly trained instructors will share their new knowledge with members of the community. Gutloff said the free workshops will begin sometime in the fall. For more information, call the V.I. Institute for Teaching and Learning at 777-7030.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice... click here.