One Sunflower


on January 23, 2010

I love having parents involved in my program.

I spent 15 years as a co-op preschool teacher so I’m used to having parents in my classroom, involved with all parts of the program.  In the co-op system, the parents are the aides in the classroom.  I don’t have that same involvement and I miss it, but I welcome whatever I can get!

Last week was a great example of an above average week for parent participation.  Alpha’s dad came to school twice, staying for the whole day.  He had talked to me about volunteering when we returned to school in January – wanting to know if it was okay.  Of course!!! I told him I love to have parent volunteers – especially dads – and that just being on the floor while the kids were in centers would be wonderful.   He came on Wednesday and Friday, stayed the entire day and did a little bit of everything.  The kids were as thrilled as I was. 

He was there on Friday when a few of the mommies came for lunch.  They are always amazed to see how independent their children are at meal times and their nutrition discoveries and good choices. Alpha’s dad mentioned to me that his wife teaches nutrition classes for the tribe.  I asked him if he thought she’d like to come present a class for the rest of the parents.  He was pretty sure she would – that would be fantastic!

This week included our monthly family night event.  One of our parents is representative to a “Policy Council” composed of representatives from each Head Start center.  She leads the parent meeting, presenting an agenda and collecting information from the families about specific activities.  Our current rep is a confident mother of 3 – a toddler, preschooler and middle school student.  She and I meet the week before the meeting to review the minutes from the latest Policy Council meeting and create an agenda for our own center’s meeting. 

We had 5 families show up – that’s about average this year.  Each event has brought a new family so maybe by the end of the year, I’ll finally get them all to show up!  The principal has been coming too, which is great.  I want these families to become well-connected to the school, comfortable with asking questions and sharing their perspective.  At this particular meeting, our rep asked the families to help put together a statement about their perspective of the program.  I’m used to the families being very positive about the program and the comments on this night were familiar.  They are impressed by what their kids are learning, they like the contact with the teachers through home visits and conferences and they are learning a lot about how to support their child’s learning.   One grandpa had some questions about how the program meets all the different developmental levels of the students; his granddaughter is a very capable learner.  I need to do some more work in communicating about our curriculum.  It was impressive to have a parent lead this meeting; Maestra was there to translate,  my principal pushed a bit for information and involvement and I did the note taking.  I should also mention that a high school student came and volunteered to play with the children while all this was going on.

After the parent meeting, we usually have a family activity that is literacy based.  This week I shared the work that the students are doing in their journals and the importance of telling family stories.  I gave each family an outline to use in creating a family “newspaper.”  There were statements for the parents to fill in about favorite games, food, activities, family members and pets.  The kids helped by illustrating pictures to go with the words.

I should have spent more time in linking the classroom work to the exercise, adding more depth to the explanation but the kids helped make the connections for the parents.  They huddled with their parents talking together about the statements, drawing pictures of “pizza” and “marbles,” pets and family members. 


All the families asked for more homework – I’ll bet that’s a first for the principal!


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