Several years ago I started a parent workshop program at the elementary building where I worked. The goal was to create positive relationships with the parents and to improve student achievement of the incoming kindergartners the next year.
The idea began with a teacher reading about a program deployed at another school. The school where I worked had rising ISTEP+ scores and DIBELS scores and we seemed to be doing a lot of things right for our kids to achieve, but the primary staff wanted to prepare our incoming kindergartners better. After interviewing several parents during kindergarten roundup, a plan was solidified, deployed, and made real!
Parents said they would do more if they knew what to do. The parents honestly didn’t know what to do at home to get their students ready for school. To aid in our knowledge base, I also scheduled a round table discussion with the local preschools to get their insight into this age group.
This is what we did:
A critical attribute is to make parents comfortable so an impact could be made. Many of the parents I work with have not so nice feelings about the school environment so to get them to come they needed to not feel intimidated. We dressed down on purpose and paid attention to the education jargon we tend to throw around. Teachers forget we have our TIER 3 vocabulary that scares people off.
Food also increased attendance!
The timing was important. We scheduled sessions during the morning and the afternoon but the attendance was not what we had hoped. We then switched to evenings after surveying the parents. Many of the parents worked during the day in the community.
The idea was to have the materials at the workshop so the parents could learn how to play and teach their children and then take the materials home with them to continue the learning.
Everything was modeled for the parents and then the parents played with their students. We did have a read aloud with the books and modeled how to ask questions.
TWO program threads:
- Topic specific sessions
- Physical Development
- Literacy Bag sessions (more on this program in a later post)
1. Nursery Rhymes
These are so important and are almost forgotten!
2. Ways to Read a Book
-Read the words
-Use the pictures to retell the story.
-Use the pictures to tell a made up story.
-Look for letters your child knows. (Especially from their name)
-Looks for words your child knows.
-Use the title and pictures to work on sounds. (We introduced the WILSON sound cards to students)
3. Using Highlighters to focus on letters
Highlight letters (or words) that child knows in newspaper, magazines, junk mail, poems, etc
4. Play-dough for making snakes and letters
5. Squishy Bags (ziploc bags with paint and duct taped for kids to write like a magic slate)
1.Wooden sequence puzzles
2. Books featuring math and shapes
3. SHAPE! Bang game
4. Play-dough for numbers and one to one correspondence
5. Take home file folder counting game
Gross Motor Skills:
- Obstacle course
- Learning to jump rope
- Color and number hopscotch
This program was a lot of fun and helped strengthen the relationships the teachers have with the community.