Next week we'll be hosting our first parent night of the year. I like to do this a few weeks into the beginning of the school year so that new parents can already be somewhat familiar with the children in the group from their own children's stories, and from what they see during picking up and dropping off their children at school. The main purpose of these gatherings is for the parents to get to know one another and to build a sense of community in our school.
At our school, we have a fairly diverse parent community especially considering the small Island we live in. I find that a successful night often involves lots of sharing and listening to the interesting backgrounds and customs of the parents. Therefore, giving the opportunity for lots of interaction is important to me.
In the past, I've wanted to share aspects of our program with them during the evening, and then had a type of activity where they would get a chance to talk to each other. This year, I feel like all the families are familiar enough with the program since I did an introductory workshop for the new families in June. So I'd like to focus more on the community building aspect.
What do you do on your first parent night? Have you attended any parent night's that had some kind of really great activity to get to know one another? Any suggestions?
Here are things we have done in the past:
- A condensed version of going through the child's day at school. (Parents got to "work" with materials, sit in their child's place for lunch, have a Spanish lesson, etc.) It was really fun, but time consuming. There was not a lot of time left for just getting to know one another, it ended up centering on the program.
- After a brief introduction to the program, parents were invited into our lunch room where they had to paint a ceramic cup for their child to use on special occasions at school.
- Children drew self portraits. Parents had to guess which one was their child's. They got to take the portraits home.
- I took photos of the children's hands at work. Parents had to guess which ones were their child's hands.
- We made black and white profiles (cameos) of the children. Parents had to guess which one was their child. They got to take the cameos home.
- The children baked bread or cookies in the morning for the parents to eat at night.
- Children left a note for the parents. Parents left notes for the children.
Things I've considered for this year:
- Have the parents embroider their child's name on a napkin to be used on special occasions. (If every year the parents make a special "gift" for their child (like the cups they made last year), the child gets to take the 3 special gifts home at their graduation.)
- Some kind of ice breaker game involving questions to be answered one at a time. I don't know many of these games. Suggestions?
- Having the parents together make some kind of mural on our lunch wall.
- Teach the parents a song, then sing it all together, record it and play it for the children the next day.