“Let’s Learn in Community”
Last Thursday we had our first learning workshop where parents of Pre-K, Kindergarten, First and Second grade students were invited to learn in community. These learning workshops are called “learning workshops” and not “parent workshops” or “parent education” because in reality we are all learning together in order to help our children succeed. This thoughtful consideration into the title and also the organization of this workshop allows both parents, teachers, and administrators to learn new knowledge, share what is working and not working, and allow each member of the community to walk away ready to apply this new knowledge.
In our first learning workshop of the year administrators, teachers, and parents sat around in four small groups. The topic was “Supporting Our Learners at Home” and there were four subtopics at each center. One center lead by our school counselor was focused on “Supporting your Social and Emotional Learner”. Here our counselor Miss Tanya taught us all about the Four Zones of Regulation, which she has began to teach here at school with different grade levels. Parents listened, asked thoughtful questions, and agreed that helping their children at home to identify their emotions and what “zone” they were in so they could help give them strategies that would bring them back to calm and focused and ready to learn would be a useful tool at home as well. Parents shared stories and different ideas they used to help their children regulate themselves. One parent shared how the don’t do time outs at home but sometimes she feels by sending her child to her room it is still the same. The group discussed this and offered different ideas including asking the child if she felt like it might be a good idea to take a break. Another parent shared how she models it by saying “I need to take a break” and “breathe”. All members of the community were sharing and learning from the expert but also from each other, for we all know what works for one child will not work for another. The beauty of learning in community shined through.
The other center offered was called, “Supporting Our Passionate Learner”. Here our Early Childhood Principal, Miss Paola, shared how important it is to know our child’s passion and then to support it so our children flourish. She shared with the group a video called, “Caine’s Arcade”. Along with great focus and at the end even tears we watched a parent support his child’s passion of arcade games. If you haven’t seen the video it is a must! So much involved in this short video and as a parent you will be changed forever in how you not only see a cardboard box, but how you can support your own child’s learning so they can create and shine. After the video, parents shared their child’s interests and took away different ways they could help support their child’s passion. One parent shared how hard it was to manage all her child’s arts and crafts and another parent shared how she had ended up creating a special space for her child in the garage where he kept his special collections and creations. Advice on different ways to store art projects with technology and more were shared and parents walked away passionate about their child’s passion and enthusiastic with ideas on how to manage sometimes these pieces in our lives that seem to get out of hand. Instead of our child’s passion being seen as “clutter” and “messes” being made, parents walked away feeling empowered to support these projects full of imagination and creativity.
The next center was based on “Supporting Our Inquirer Learner”. Shannon Farrell, our Primary Years Program (PYP) coordinator lead this group on how we can encourage our children to continue to stay curious and ask hard and deep questions. She led us more to understand our role in how we can support our children. Instead of just answering questions, we can ask them “What do you think?”, when they ask a good question, we can say “that’s a great question, where could we look to find the answer?” She also shared a short video clip. Parents walked away feeling they could support their learner not just in science and social studies, which the Primary Years Program curriculum covers, but as an inquirer and a contributor to the world. These thoughtful questions are children make can turn into action and truly change the world if we support them!
The last center focused on “Supporting Our Academic Learner”. This was my station and we discussed ways to support our mathematicians, writers, and readers. We played a quick “Double War” Card game to start and discussed the power of games in teaching mathematic skills such as one to one correspondence, counting forwards, counting backwards, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and more! A deck of cards allows for so many possibilities! As well as board games! We talked about the board games we had in our homes already and shared how we used them. Yahtzee, Candyland, Chutes and Ladder, Sorry, and more came up. There are so many board games that teach us math, but also help us develop our oral language skills and the life skills of winning and losing which is so important as well. Supporting the writer was another hot topic. Research tells us again and again the importance of providing supplies and a space to write. We shared about our writing spaces for our children and talked about how important of just having blank paper, a stapler (to make books with), and pens are in a household to increase writing AND reading skills! If they are making books at school, why aren’t they making books at home? We must help our children become and feel like authors wherever they are! And readers! Parents created bookmarks for their children and wrote on the back THEIR favorite stories when they were young. This was purposeful so that as parents we remember that when we are models ourselves and are joyful about books, our children will be too! When we share books that we loved as children and were special to us, our children feel that love and reading becomes a bonding experience not a “chore”. As parents we are not there to “teach” the reading skills and strategies, but it is our job to create an environment full of books, give time and provide space to read great stories together… to read aloud and never stop! It was fun seeing so many childhood favorites written down! And all this learning should be fun!
Through all of these centers it wasn’t just parents learning. Once again our theme of these “Learning Workshops” are “Learn in Community”. We were all learning. I know I learned a ton from other parents about games they liked to play, books they enjoyed, and ways they were supporting their social and emotional, passionate, inquiring, and academic learners. One thing I love about our school is that we truly to look at the “whole child”. There are so many other facets of our children we must support as educators and learners beyond even this list here. We also recognize that parents truly are children’s first and most important teacher and a crucial part of the learning process.
Hopefully, this coming year as we offer more and more learning workshops and continue to learn in community we will continue to grow as parents and educators, as fellow nurturers, of our unique little individuals we are so grateful to learn from each day. They challenge us, they test us even at times, but in the end they are teaching us so much about ourselves. Thank you for learning in community! See you next time!