Tam Huynh is an active parent leader and is well respected within the Vietnamese community in Portland. When her son was in Kindergarten at Lincoln Park Elementary, she met a P-3 Coordinator who helped Tam get involved parent leadership activities. She started serving on the Parent Accountability Council in 2017 because she cares about education and wants to help her community.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Vietnam and have been in Portland for 21 years. I like to learn from other people. I got involved with IRCO and the parent group at Lincoln Park. I like to talk and share information with my community. I live in SE Portland with my husband and 2 kids. We have a son in fourth grade and a daughter who is graduating from high school this year and will be going to the University of Portland. We are very proud of both of them.
Why do you care about early learning?
My kids didn’t get to go to any Preschool. With my daughter, both my husband and I were working and the preschool program was only a few hours a day. When you’re a working parent, that is hard because the hours are not long enough. When my son was 14 month old, he got injured and needed to have surgery every year until he was 5 yrs old, so he couldn’t go to preschool. I had to teach both of them their numbers, letters and colors. When my daughter started Kindergarten, she was really scared to go to school because she didn’t know anyone, didn’t understand and was really shy. My son was excited because he wanted to be with other kids – it took them both a while to get used to it.
Some parents don’t want to send their kids to preschool because they worry and think their kid is too little to be away from their parent. Or some think preschool is not important yet because all they do is play and it’s too expensive to send them. Families need access to different kinds of preschool – we need ones that have longer program hours because we work, adults who can speak our languages and know our culture so our kids don’t feel alone at school. I’m so happy we have Preschool for All and I tell all my friends with little kids, you can send them to a good preschool for free! I feel proud to be a part of this.
What do you want to share with other parents?
The way I was raised is not the same as how I raise my kids today. I didn’t have choices I could make on my own. With my kids, I listen to them, I encourage them to talk and tell me what is going on at school and in their lives. It’s very different now, we don’t have to be as strict as our parents. I can help my kids feel more comfortable so they’re not scared. As parents, we can open your mind and listen to our kids, let them talk to us about their feelings.
What does your family like to do together?
We have fun together as a family. We laugh, we play games, like Uno or Chinese chess. Just spend time together – our kids grow up so fast.