Families learn how to create ‘education oasis’

It’s not unusual for parents to reach a point when they are simply unable to help a child with homework. Whether it’s trigonometry or chemistry or history, the parents might know little about the subjects or have forgotten everything they had learned in school.

But those parents can still help, said Nick Lebron, director of the Catholic Charities Community Schools program, which is staffed by a team skilled at identifying needs and creating resolutions. After parents who had hit the point of homework helplessness reached out, the team responded with the idea of an “education oasis.”

“We can still support our kids with homework by providing them with the environment to do so,” said Nick, whose team organized workshops for parents and students (“scholars” is how Nick’s team describes them) to help them design an “education oasis” at home where the scholar can study in a distraction-free environment.

A workshop was held in late January at each of the three Hartford schools where Catholic Charities operates Community Schools programs — McDonough and Milner middle schools and Parkville Community School. The goal was to help families understand that providing support for their scholars goes beyond helping them answer questions on a homework assignment. 

They discussed things like what they can do when the child doesn’t have homework and what makes an environment at home conducive for learning. They also worked on creating afterschool checklists, routines, vision boards, and strategies for encouraging their children to strive for academic achievement. Using the knowledge gained from the workshops, the families were able to create their own comfortable and calm “education oasis” at home.

Leading each workshop were Catholic Charities education and parent service coordinators from each school. Those were Kate Shrock (education coordinator) and John Rosario (parent service coordinator) at Parkville, Sarsha Smith (education coordinator) and Destiny Zayas (parent service coordinator) at Milner, and Amanda LoStimolo (education coordinator) and Marie Heredia (parent service coordinator) at McDonough. More workshops are expected in the future.

The school programs are partnerships with Hartford Public Schools and offer students opportunities to improve their academic, health, families, and social development. Learn more about the services they provide at www.ccaoh.org/schools.

Click here to read about a unique way our Community Schools team helped increase attendance — a barbershop.

Photos from the workshops below.