Parent Education

I went to college because I wanted to teach young children.  I have always been much more comfortable singing silly songs, reading stories or playing with puppets in front of a class of 4-6 year olds than speaking to a group of eye-contact avoiding adults who are secretly checking their email messages.  But still I felt responsible to share information with my Kindergarten parents about basic child development, how children really learn, and child management strategies; along with keeping them updated about what their child was learning and how they were progressing at school.

Parenting is very hard work, and many parents don’t have much support or easy access to information unless teachers of young children educate the parents too!  Oprah Winfrey often says that when people know better, they do better.  I think the best way to teach anything is to SHOW, not TELL.  Parents who volunteered in my classroom sometimes told me that they learned a lot just by watching circle time, that was such a special thing to hear!  Two or three times each year I asked every child to bring an adult to school for a half day.  I called these Parent/Child Activity Days.  They were always based on a theme and the activities the parents and children participated in covered lots of subject areas of our curriculum.  First we went through some of our morning routines – calendar, morning message, etc. so parents could see what their children did each day.  When I planned the activities I always included a cooking project, large motor play, reading and writing for a reason, constructive play, science experiments – including charting information, math games, art experiences, etc.  By coming in to school and interacting with their child the parents could see how the children learned by doing.  Over and over I would hear parents say “We could do this at home!” about an activity they particularly enjoyed with their child.  Under the Theme section of my blog I have shared some of these parent/child activity days.  I have a few more that I will still post.  I loved these special days or evenings, and families told me they did too.  But not all parents were able or willing to participate.  I knew that I had to share information in lots of different ways.

The most basic thing I told my parents was to read to your child.  You really can’t tell them this enough.  I love this poem and often posted it where parents would see it.

Read to me

There are lots of ways to encourage parents to read to their children.  You could send home ideas of books children might love – especially around holiday gift giving times.  You might want to include a little description or excerpt as well as giving them the titles and authors.  You could attach a note with suggestions of good books along with book order forms.  I found that when I read and reread a book – and it became a classroom favorite, many kids asked their parents for their own copy.

I sent books home as often as I could.  I tried to set up a system of sharing books overnight that the children could manage independently – because I just never had time to check books in or out.  Of course, you lose a few …  but I think it’s worth it.  I don’t remember where I got this list of 100 suggested books – I think it was from a public library.

Here is a copy if you would like to print it:

100 Books to Read in Kdg

Just like everything else, you have to think through your motives – sometimes my goal was just to get parents to read wonderful, exciting, fun stories to their children.  I wanted them all to fall in love with reading.  Other times I wanted them to read simple, emergent stories with sight words that the children would recognize, or a repetitive pattern for the children to chime in.  I wanted parents to understand different components of a read aloud – from left to right progression of print, using picture cues, making connections, understanding the story elements, and retelling main events.  I knew that the more children are exposed to reading, the better readers they will be.  Children are so lucky when they have parents who take the time to read with them.  I tried to reinforce and encourage and praise parents as much as I could!  I think it helps to acknowledge how busy they are, and how difficult finding time in their schedules can be.

Quite awhile ago I wrote a post about Kindergarten homework, I shared monthly read aloud game charts, and suggestions of things parents can do with their children through each month.  Just search Kindergarten Homework if you would like to take a look.  Along with those calendars and charts I also sent home information that might be helpful for parents.  One year my professional goal was parent education, and that is when I developed these handouts.  Much of the information I shared came from a class called Playful Literacy and You, by Dr. Kara Gregory.  I tried to put some of her ideas into a form that might help parents of young children understand how children learn and things they can do to help.   I sent one of these handouts home about once a month.  The first year I used these I gave each parent a folder with a label on the front to collect these papers through the year.  I was hoping that might make them value the information more, and even if they didn’t read it right away they might take a look at the folder later.  I am happy to share these with you.

13 Reading to Your Child

1 Play and Literacy

2 Play and Literacy

3 What is the best way to learn

4 Play and Playful Learning

5 Six Kinds of Play

6 Understanding Language

7 The Uses of Language

8 The Development of Conversation

9 -Support. Oral Lang. Dev

10 Strategies to Support

11 Phonological Awareness

12 Print Awareness

14 Handwriting

16 Dev. Written Lang

I wish you all a wonderful school year, filled with excited children who are ready to learn, and supportive parents who want to be partners with you in this terrific journey!


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucille
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 08:20:12

    My team of kindergarten teachers are all at different “stages” in their teaching careers. Some don’t want parent’s involved at all. A few of us decided to focus on Parents as Partners this year so your information will be of great help. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to teach with you.


    • dbsenk
      Sep 05, 2011 @ 19:22:53

      Yes, Lucille, I would have loved to teach with you too! Sometimes you just have to keep doing what you believe in even if your peers don’t agree. I think having parents in the classroom can be intimidating for young teachers sometimes. Having my own children first, and all my volunteer time before I taught really helped me. I remember being a little uncomfortable singing and doing silly motions in front of parents when I first started teaching. I think just the fact that I was older than my kindergarten parents gave me confidence in later years. You find out quickly how appreciative and supportive parents are when they see how much you care about their child.


  2. Connie Wigton Cassidy
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 10:16:37

    I love your posts, thank you for teaching me so many wonderful lessons. I can’t wait to incorporate your latest post (about parenting) into my school year.


  3. Michelle
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 16:47:57

    Your blog is such a tremendous help to me! I taught for three years in the 80’s. Then, I stayed home with my boys for 18 years before returning to the classroom. Now I’m in my fourth year of teaching Kindergarten. So much has changed that it’s like starting over. Your wonderful ideas and your generosity in sharing them is such a blessing. Thank you for teaching teachers, too!


    • dbsenk
      Sep 05, 2011 @ 19:16:26

      Thank you so much for writing Michelle. I am delighted that you have found some ideas that are helpful! Thank you for reading my blog!! It is really fun for me to hear from teachers, and makes me still feel part of Kindergarten!


  4. Chrissy
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 20:40:02

    WOW! Thank you for sharing!



  5. Darcy
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 07:14:01

    I love, love, LOVE your site and all the neat ideas you are so sweet to share. This may be a silly question…but what font did you use on the parent education handouts? I’m SUCH a “font junkie” and LOVE that particular one.


    • dbsenk
      Sep 10, 2011 @ 21:10:30

      No problem Darcy – I love fonts too – I have way too many! That one is called LD Elementary – I got it from a Cd called School Fonts II from Teacher Created Materials – on the cover it also says Timesaving Software Tools. I got it at a teacher store. I am always looking for the right lower case a and g for kindergartners – I know they need to recognize all kinds of fonts but I like to use the handwriting type often. But then you have to have fun fonts too! There are several on that CD that I like and used quite a bit.


  6. CarolIna
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 11:06:14

    Love the idea of educating parents. My parents often ask me what can they do to help.


  7. Debbie Jordan
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 10:20:23

    I just want to compliment you and your blog. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading it and feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful resource. I can relate to so many of your sentiments about kindergarten. I also love your ideas for your daughter’s baby shower and pray I can use some of them for my own daughter who is experiencing complications with her pregnancy right now. Thank-you!


  8. Trackback: Parenting and Education | Fresno Centric
  9. Maria Esparza
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 14:07:41

    I am a firm believer that parents are the first teachers,Thanks for your help


  10. Debbie
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 07:38:44

    Can you also please go into more detail about the center time management of just literacy tubs and math tubs. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your small group time, as well. Thank-you!


  11. Domenica Mcgahee
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 16:54:18

    It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.


  12. ValleyMom
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 10:48:53

    I feel as though I have stumbled upon a pirates treasure of gold! You are not only a GENIUS but you are a GENEROUS genius sharing your wealth of information. Unlike that hideous TPT web site. YOU are touching the lives of countless children through your act of SHARING (which we K teachers promote all day long) and you are helping establish the future leaders of tomorrows generous!


    • dbsenk
      Sep 12, 2014 @ 17:46:15

      Thank you so much, this is one of the nicest compliments I have ever received. I have been so blessed, it is my pleasure to share and one small way to pass on blessings to others. I am so glad you found some things you can use! Thank you for taking the time to write!


  13. Cynthia
    Jan 10, 2016 @ 13:26:08

    I totally agree with ValleyMom! It is wonderful to found such a treasure of helpful information.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: