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This week I started my annual summer workshops for a great program called Smart Start. The summer project is for children and parents of in-coming kindergarteners who have not attended preschool. The children attend four weeks of a pre-kindergarten-like setting and the parents have a once a week workshop on what they can do to help support their child. It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get off to a Smart Start.
So what do you say to a parent who is sending their first born into the world of school for the first time? I do what I often do with groups or individuals, ask questions. One of the questions from the session is what do you as parents want to provide for your child? There were answers like: support, nurturing, encouragement, commitment, oh and did we say love. Then I asked the question, what do you want teachers to provide for your child? There was a moment of silence. I don’t think most of us as parents ever think about what we want from teachers. One of the first answers was something like, “I want them to want what I want for my child.” And then more answers came: support, nurturing, encouragement, commitment, oh yes, and academics, learning new concepts.
If as a parent, I’m going to let go of my baby, or in my case since my first to go to kindergarten were twins, my babies, to a new setting, I want to know who’s going to be taking care of them and will they take care of my child with as much energy as I do. This is a big step, not only for the child, but for parents. What was interesting in our group, and in most groups like this, is that the desires for the parents parallel the desires for the teachers. Kindergarten teachers typically want to support, nurture, encourage, and love the children in their care. And yes, academics are important. The school skills are important because this is such a foundational year for a child and it’s what a teacher does . Teachers are supposed to be helping a child with new skills and concepts along with the support, nurturing and encouragement.
So if we want the same things, how can we, parents and teachers, work more closely together so that a child can feel nurtured, supported and loved while he or she is taking on all of these new skills? That’s the big question and the answer is, we can. At every step and stage of a child’s development, we can be on the same page, working jointly to help a child succeed. Sometimes the parent may have more insight about what the child needs. Sometimes the teacher may know more about the next stage of reading or writing. It’s a joint effort from kindergarten to graduation. The Smart Start parents are getting just that, a smart and healthy start for themselves and their child. Give yourself a smart start and work with your child’s teacher this coming school year, whatever grade level, in partnership for success.
Cover Photo Credit: Squiggle
Posted on June 20, 2012 by Dr. Joni Samples
Dr. Joni is the Chief Academic Officer for Family Friendly Schools, mom of four and a life-long educator. She does workshop for schools and parents all over the country working to connect both groups with each other to support learninng. For more support, find out about The Parent Playbook series, her newest support for parents.
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Tags: *Parent Engagement at Home , *School-Family Partnership, Building trust & respect, Cooperation, Parents as teachers
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