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  • Nerida K

What do our literacy and essential skill programs look like?

Facilitator and participants at a PCMG program

At FESA, we offer free programs across Calgary (and across Canada) that help with literacy, reading and writing, in combination with other practical skills. Skills like parenting and reading with our children, managing money and financial literacy, and workplace essential skills.

Programs are usually held in-person at community resource centres, social services, immigrant services to name a few and online. Programs run once a week and are usually 10 weeks long, and each program has 5–10 learners in the group. Our facilitators work with you to make sure you are comfortable and that your unique learning needs are met.

One way to better understand what our programs look like is to put them into context. Here are a few stories from our learners and facilitators in 2022:

Facilitators and learners with their certificate of completion.

Reading and Writing Circles

Reading and Writing Circles provides a safe environment where learners can read and write freely, at their own pace, and receive non-judgmental, personalized help with reading, writing and conversational English.

This year at the Women in Need Society, we delivered a hybrid program with a small group of participants in-person and a small group online simultaneously. We did this for several reasons: some participants were not comfortable coming in-person due to COVID-19, prior commitments like work, and problems with transportation. In addition, participants had grown to know each other and wanted to continue in the same group.

The online group joined via Zoom and were visible on the TV screen in the program space. There were two facilitators: one online in the Zoom call and one in-person.

‘There were specific times when learners would struggle to answer a question on their worksheet and through guiding questions, they would reach the answer and instantly have an ‘aha’ moment. Other enjoyable moments included the learners completing their worksheets and sharing their sense of accomplishment, taking a break from working and enjoying conversations, and making mistakes. My favourite part of the program was the way we all laughed together when words were mispronounced and misspelled, and all the learners helped each other build on their skills in a fun way. As a facilitator, I misspelled and sometimes made small errors and were corrected by the learners. This created a lighthearted, easy going, and nonjudgmental environment where mistakes were learning opportunities.’

- Minahil, FESA Facilitator

You can find have more stories from the learners in Reading and Writing Circles, including some videos, here:

Online family program

Parent Child Mother Goose and Literacy and Parenting Skills

Parent Child Mother Goose (PCMG) is a group experience for parents with babies and young children to learn rhymes, songs, and stories to teach their children about language. It is often delivered with Literacy and Parenting Skills (LAPS) which uses parenting topics to strengthen the literacy skills of parents while giving them strategies to model good literacy practices with their children. Both programs build family bonds which, in turn, encourage lifelong learning.

Ela and her son Mithran first joined a combined Parent Child Mother Goose and Literacy and Parenting Skills program in 2019 when Mithran was one year old.

‘Mithran didn’t show his interests in singing, rhyming and storytelling in my program for a very long time. He couldn’t concentrate in session time and seemed to get distracted easily. I always told program participants that young children’s attention span is very short. They are learning more than you think if you expose them to a learning environment constantly. Ela shared the same strong belief as mine and maintained good attendance.

The moms and children in my program formed a great learning community where parents and children became friends. This further motivated Ela and Mithran’s participation in my program. Gradually, the power of repetition did magic on Mithran. He showed more interest in singing and rhyming. He could concentrate better when he was getting more familiar with the songs, rhymes and session structures.

Due to COVID, this program transitioned to online Zoom sessions in March 2020. Mithran’s progress was increasingly visible. Mithran nowadays can stay focused for an entire 40 minutes in a Zoom session. He is good at following my instructions, answering questions and expressing his ideas.

He has developed great interests in book reading. He likes to share his newly borrowed and purchased books at the beginning of a session when we are checking in and catching up with everyone. As Ela said, he developed a reading book habit.

Ela has been dedicated to her son’s learning and development. Her love accompanies continuous learning in parenthood and has built a strong foundation of further learning and development for Mithran. Mithran started preschool in September. I believe he will shine in his learning.’

- Shared by a PCMG/LAPS Facilitator

Learning together ❤️

Indigenous Parenting After Violence

Indigenous Parenting After Violence (I-PAV) is delivered with the support of Elders and Indigenous communities. The program uses a trauma-informed approach combining culture and literacy, parenting, pre-employment, financial literacy and essential skills to help learners who have been impacted by family violence to build confidence and develop their full potential.

Tanya, is an Indigenous mother of two children, who attended our Indigenous Parenting After Violence (I-PAV) program as part of the programming at a long-term residential recovery program for women experiencing co-occurring issues including addiction, mental health and a history of abuse.

Tanya had been abused mentally, emotionally, and physically by her children’s father. Because of the abuse, she started drinking to cope. Tanya’s drinking resulted in her children getting taken away from her.

When Tanya first joined the I-PAV program, her self-esteem was very low; however, with each passing week, there was more growth. Tanya responded well to the sessions, and she started to participate more in group discussions and activities. By the end of I-PAV and her recovery program, Tanya’s self-esteem was restored, and her transformation was remarkable. Tanya was able to rent her own apartment and she got her children back.

You can take a look at some of the other programs we offer here:

Or contact and let us know what kind of program you would like to join!


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