As I have mentioned before, parents in our program are required to participate in a variety of activities. These objectives are outlined by the state of Minnesota in a comprehensive document called the Parent Education Core Curriculum Framework and Indicators. In addition to my day to day work as an early childhood educator, I also facilitate the parent education component for both of our school readiness classes.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to host a Parent Night at our school. I think some parents were confused. Many thought it was going to be an Open House or conferences with their child’s teacher. Imagine the surprise when they realized that this was a night just for them! My goals for this evening were simple. I wanted to bring parents together in a safe and supportive environment to allow them to share their hopes, dreams and concerns for their family. In addition, my goal was to help create and maintain a community of parents who would know and share with each other in the hall, in the parking lot and in their neighborhood.
Our agenda for the evening included a chance to write and share our hopes for our pre-kindergarten children. Several parents noted that they want a better education and a better life for their child than they had. Another common theme was a desire to raise children to be caring, respectful and generous people. It was amazing to hear the hopes of parents and see the walls and barriers, normally caused by socio-economic levels or cultural differences, be broken down. We ended the evening with a small group discussion time. Parents were invited to share things that their child likes about school, things they struggle with, what parents like about being a parent and what they struggle with as parents. There was laughter and tears amongst most of the groups. I was honored to be with a group of parents that care so much about their children and their family.
Based on the verbal and non-verbal feedback, the night was a success! I think it is always good when a dad says, “It’s been an hour?! Really? Can we stay longer?!” I hope to host at least three more events like this throughout the school year. It is a great way to model community to our children, and practice what we preach!