Little Sponges is dedicated to the enrichment of young minds through bilingual education. Being bilingual is not only a great gift, it is often a necessity to be able to thrive in today’s global community.
For many young children, their entire world revolves around their school, home, and community. According to the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, “when schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more.” This is why family involvement is so important to a child’s educational and emotional development.
Award winning ESL teachers, such as Astrid Emily Francis, agree that the core of students’ success relies on parent engagement and parent-teacher partnerships. That’s why Little Sponges makes its expansive dual-language program available to parents of participating schools at no extra cost.
We know from experience that there are various factors that can get in the way of a family’s ability to be active in their child’s education. Some of these include a lack of time, a language barrier, or the simple fact that it can sometimes be difficult to motivate children to study and do their homework.
Our program is built to help bridge these gaps and solve these problems between a child’s education in the classroom and their education at home.
According to an NEA policy brief, the evidence of higher student success rates with family engagement “holds true for students at both the elementary and secondary level, regardless of the parent’s education, family income, or background—and the research shows parent involvement affects minority students’ academic achievement across all races.”
This is especially important for immigrant students who are English Language Learners, as they are dealing with an abundance of changes in their life, and the comfort of their parents in their educational setting will allow a smoother transition into their new classroom.
Common Roadblocks & How Little Sponges Can Help
Lack of Time – The intuitive, child-centered design of our program allows children to navigate the content on their own, so even young children can learn new vocabulary and content using our program independently. After the first few uses with a parent or teacher’s help, children will be excited that they are able to navigate the website on their own. Children who need extra practice can spend as much time on one activity, or repeat activities until they master the vocabulary. With Little Sponges, homework becomes easy and low stress because children can learn using a tablet or computer while their parent(s) is cooking dinner, cleaning up, etc.
Little Sponges can also be used on the go. This allows busy parents to keep their child occupied with fun and educational materials while traveling or commuting to and from activities.
Language Barrier – Parents of English Learners sometimes lack language skills to help with homework in English. This is even the case for parents whose native language is English, and their child is learning a second language in school. Seeing new information in a second language can be overwhelming and discouraging to parents in this scenario. Many parents try to use Google translate to make sense of homework, but that can be very frustrating because it takes a lot of extra time, and oftentimes, the translations are not very accurate.
That is why the Little Sponges program provides content in both the student’s native and second language. Using bridging and translanguaging allows parents to use their native language as an anchor and transfer knowledge quickly to the second language. Using this technique enables parents to comprehend new vocabulary and content and help their children with homework.
Lack of Motivation – Too often children are forced to complete boring worksheets, which makes them dread homework. Many studies have shown that students are more engaged and retain more information when the content is presented in a fun and authentic way. This insight is at the core of the Little Sponges design. With fun puppets, songs, stories, and games, Little Sponges makes children motivated to learn a new language. The best part is that oftentimes when using the program, children don’t even realize they are learning.
Lack of Financial Resources – Family resources often play a large part in the educational divide. Little Sponges aims to bridge that gap by providing free access to the program at home to any student whose school is utilizing the program. Parents can access Little Sponges with their child outside of school hours and extend the learning beyond the classroom!
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