Program strengthens learning at home

Valley Elementary School volunteer parent Karen Powell leads a Title 1 backpack meeting Oct. 4 in the school's cafeteria. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A few Valley Elementary School parents got a hands-on lesson in making math fun for their second-grade children Oct. 4 in the school’s lunchroom.

Parents and a few children gathered in the cafeteria a few hours after school let out to learn more about the school’s Title 1 backpack program.

Through the program, which is federally funded and free for those who attend, parent volunteer Karen Powell distributes small backpacks stuffed with items such as workbooks and flashcards to the parents.

The backpacks’ contents are dependent on the grade level, as the kindergarten program focuses on reading and the first- and second-grade programs focus on math.

“Everything in the backpack is purchased with federal Title 1 money, so the school isn’t charged anything for this program,” said Powell, who has a child at VES and a child at Valley Intermediate School.

“There are some really good resources in there. Some of them will have measuring tapes and things like that,” Powell added.

During the Oct. 4 meeting, Powell showed the parents how to use dominoes to teach their children basic addition, subtraction and multiplication skills, and demonstrated math games using small colored cubes.

Powell said teaching parents how to use the materials allows them to become more involved in their children’s schoolwork.

“It helps parents to learn more about what their children are doing in school, and it helps them to make math and reading more fun for their children,” Powell said. “It’s not meant to replace homework. It’s something extra to help the kids better understand what they’re learning.”

The school usually hosts a Title 1 backpack meeting every Tuesday morning and evening. For more information, visit Shelbyed.k12.al.us/schools/val/index.htm, or call the school at 682-5550.