Children's Center Preschool Serving the Los Feliz, Hollywood, Silverlake , Atwater communities

Nov14

I just left the Preschool Forum put on by the Silverlake  MOMS club. It was a great gathering of preschools that serve the Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Atwater communities. The schools represented the range from  true coop schools  to schools where parents are minimally involved. It made me think. How would I characterize the active participation of parents in the life of our preschool?

The best way to describe our preschool is that we are a Parent Involvement School. Our parents come from diverse backgrounds and includes a number of working parents. We welcome the diversity that comes when our families represent a wide range of socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural, professional, and religious backgrounds. There is also considerable variability in the time that our parents have available to contribute their  talents and efforts to the school.

We welcome family involvement in a variety of ways that meet the needs of our diverse population. Parents are encouraged  to volunteer, be it  regularly reading to children, bringing in a wonderful snack, sharing a skill or talent, or helping us with the parent/child special days we have each month.

In addition,  there are many other ways to be part of the school. Twice a month we have parent coffees at 9 am. where parents come together to discuss parenting  concerns,  challenges, and successes and to  support each other with ideas and empathy.

We have regular parent potlucks in the early evening where parents share a collaboratively prepared meal and then, over dessert,  discuss a topic of common interest.  At our next gathering we will focus on limit setting, a very popular topic right now.

Every 4 to 5 weeks, we have  special parent/child gatherings during the preschool morning.  They range from the Teddy Bear Picnic to Green Day. Our recent Teddy bear Picnic brought to a close two weeks when the children brought their teddy bears, listened to bears stories, danced with them, sorted them by size and color, and created a bear story to add to the  picture of them with their bear, just to name a few of the activities.

The picnic was typical of CCP parent/child gatherings. Parent volunteers helped the children make sandwiches and wash fruit for the picnic held at 11:20 am. A picnic area was readied in our other room with blankets, the food  and a few surprise bears. As the remainder of the parents arrived, we all sat together for a reading of the Teddy Bear Picnic.

Then it was time to march to the picnic, bears in arms. As the children settled in and  the parents helped serve the food, I read the stories the children had written about the bears. This was the first time some of the children had heard their words shared with a group; they were thrilled with the laughter and happy responses. This was one of many literacy experiences where children connect their words and the words of other’s stories to the written word. Literacy should always be relevant.

The picnic ended with everyone around the parachute, tossing the bears up into the sky, watching them come down, and sending them back up again.

Parent/ child gatherings are shared events that relate to the curriculum in the school or the festivities of different cultures. We do not have child performances, rather, we invite everyone to partiicpate.We vary the time they are held, sometimes first thing in the morning, sometimes before lunch to allow for maximum particpation. They are always a wonderful chance for parents, teachers, and children to join to together and share a great experience.

In this mix of options, our parents have succeeded in forging bonds with their children’s experiences at  preschool as well as in feeling part of close and supportive parent community. Everyone benefits when families have strong relationships with their children’s school.

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