This is the second in our new e-newsletter series with monthly profiles of our families and updates on our programs.

Ana Romero is the mother of Giselle Iglesias, a kindergartener at Scotchtown Hills Elementary School. 
Giselle is her oldest child. They attended all six fall Great Start sessions. 

Giselle was never in school or day-care before she started kindergarten. That was a concern, because I knew there were kids who knew a little bit more than her. I didn't want her to feel discouraged about learning. So that's why I signed up for Side by Side. I said, "This is a great opportunity."

Giselle didn't know many of her sight words or her letters when she first started. At first she knew how to sing the letters of the alphabet, but if I pointed out a random letter, she wouldn't really know it. Side by Side gave us ideas of how to learn them in a fun way. I bought a carpet mat that has the whole alphabet. Giselle loves it. She will step on a letter and tell me the letter. It's a huge help. I also do flash cards with her, and that helps out too. The sight words I put on flash cards, and I help her pronounce them. These are things I learned from Side by Side.

For math we use the dice. We throw the dice, and I tell her how many dots are on each and I have her add them up. We also use the number line from 1 to 20. We also use the bean bag to throw on a number and then we go to the number line to add. It is very helpful.

The discipline tips have been very helpful. Giselle loves stickers. So let's say, she has to put her toys away. Sometimes before it would be hard for her to listen to me. When I introduced the stickers, I said, "You clean your toys and I'll give you a sticker." And she would do it without hesitation.

In the beginning when I would help her with her homework and she wouldn't do a few things, I would get frustrated. In the discipline sessions, I learned how to keep calm. We are both a little sad about it ending until the fall, but we're definitely looking forward to next year. 

On April 29th, we hosted our annual Ride & Stride at the beautiful National Wildlife Center. Unlike last year, our riders were able to finish the entire ride without a downpour! Thanks to the generosity and hard work of our bike riders and our hike striders, we raised over $3,500. See you next year!

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