I think that parent education is an important part of teaching Kindergarten. Research shows that supportive parents are a vital part of a child’s success in school. S0 that means that all early childhood teachers need to help parents understand how young children learn, what our curriculum is, and model specific ways they can help their child. I always believe in show – not tell – so every year we had several parent/child activity days.
A parent/child day might be held during a morning or afternoon at school, or during an evening. I always tried to include activities from most areas of the curriculum, and included ‘cooking’ our own snack. The evening activities usually included a simple dinner. We had many working parents, most were willing to take a half day off school, or found a grandparent, or other adult to substitute for them. Occasionally we had a child without an adult present, and either I spent the time with him/her or found another adult to help out. We usually built the parent/child day around a theme – like Transportation, Space, Cowboys, Bugs, Ocean, Dinosaurs, etc. but sometimes we celebrated a holiday with a parent/child day.
Here is an invitation from one of our Transportation days:
The children usually decorated paper grocery bags ahead of time that they carried around with them as they went to different centers. Depending on the number of Kindergarten classes at our school each year we went between 3-4 classrooms, plus a centrum area in the middle. The parents and children chose to where to go, and completed activities in any order they liked. There were usually about 20-25 different activities.
Each parent was given a checklist:
I know I keep mentioning it – but I am sorry I didn’t save more of my files when I retired – the activities I am going to share were from quite a few years ago. Along with higher expectations, I changed some of the parent/child centers to represent the newer benchmarks and curriculum. I added more recording sheets, more opportunities for the children to write, and higher math skills. It was a great opportunity to expose parents to things like counting by 2’s and money values. When they played a game during one of these days it gave parents ideas of ways to reinforce our learning at home.
I always liked to begin the day at circle time, and we did a few routine things – like lunch count, our morning letter, the calendar – to show parents how our day at school usually began. Then I tried to involve parents in an interactive game or story – to get them in the mood to play and have fun.
For this activity I enlarged lots of different kinds of transportation – skateboards, hot air balloons, blimps, garbage trucks – anything I could find clipart of (you could enlarge some of the pictures I provided with math games.) I cut red, yellow and green construction paper 9×12 and folded the pieces in half. I glued the pictures inside the folded paper and put them all in a basket. Then I passed the basket around and each parent/child took one. Then we went around the circle saying the poem. The parent and child would first tell where they would like to go together – then they opened up the paper to show their mode of transportation. Pretty simple – but it gave each child a chance to talk and got parents involved.
After that I quickly went over the activities listed on the check off sheet. Ordinarily I always modeled what I wanted children to do – but my goal on parent child days was just to get them interested in the activities and to give them an idea where they might want to begin. Next I passed out the check off sheets and the grocery bags, and the parents and children were free to go to any center in any classroom.
At each center I posted a sign giving directions for the activity. For Transportation I stapled together red, yellow and green paper in a 3 sided sign and glued the directions on all 3 sides so parents could read them from different sides of the tables.
Here are some of the activities we included:
I am posting files from a couple of Transportation days – I think there are a few duplicate activities but I am having trouble editing them because I changed from a PC to a MAC since I used these projects, and the files are not cooperating. I just wanted to give you as much as I could in case you found anything you wanted to use.
We used these pictures along with sight words to make sentences.
Please forgive the duplicates!
These parent/child days were quite a bit of work to prepare and set up but during the actual activity I loved just having time to walk around, visit with the kids and parents as they played, and listen to their conversations. Lots of times I heard parents saying “we could do this at home!”
Sometimes we had parent/teacher conferences not long after a parent/child day. Parents often commented that they noticed many of the things I was sharing with them about their child, on the day they spent at school. They got a chance to see how their child sat at circle time, how they contributed to our routines, how willing they were to complete work. We always had some gross motor activities and some kids just wanted to run and play – that gave their parents an insight too! Of course there were some parents who wanted to help their child too much, and some that wanted to visit with other parents instead of interacting with their child – but I was usually able to gently intercede. Most parents told me it was a special day with their child.