Hi! I’m back with number four in my mini-series! Please join the discussions, like and share these blog posts so others can have opportunities to join and share their experiences too! 🙂
Today I would like to open discussions around parent involvement in Reggio Emilia inspired preschools. A Reggio inspired school is just that, an early learning environment with aspects of the Reggio Emilia Approach integrated into multiple areas of the early learning experience. Parent involvement has always been encouraged and sometimes expected or a requirement for early learning schools and co-ops. However, the ways in which parents have been invited, encouraged and required to participate in their child’s school varies from place to place. It also depends on the philosophies the early learning schools follow as to how a parent can contribute.
Coming from both progressive and traditional educational environments I have been fortunate enough to witness and experience many different ways in which parents have helped in the classroom through the years. The ways in which parents have participated in the schools and classrooms I’ve taught in have ranged from being responsible for one center or activity table to having parents sign up to be a classroom helper and jump in wherever assistance was needed. One of the things I’ve always stressed it that parents should only engage in activities in which they feel comfortable. The reason for this is so the experience is enjoyable and rewarding for both the parent and their child. I prefer that parents be able to choose the areas of interest they wish to help out with and I love inviting them to share a special talent they have, such as music, plants, art etc.
In Reggio inspired early learning classrooms parent involvement can grow over time. As the parent participates more and more in different aspects of the learning day, he/ she becomes more confident in their abilities to not only support but to impart knowledge and learn from the children around them. In this way, the parent not only continues to influence the children in positive ways, but they too are learning new things from being around a diverse group of children. The more comfortable parents become participating and assisting the more confident they become in how their children are learning too.
Sometimes it can be difficult to step back and allow your child to be themselves in a different environment. Parents are used to seeing how their children are with them, yet sometimes they can be a bit surprised at their child’s new found confidence and behaviors while at preschool. Please don’t be alarmed, your child is simply expressing their new found independence and engaging in several new social/ emotional opportunities. And each child is being influenced by another child and the whole group, so they are in essence trying on many different hats as they continue to grow into who they will be someday.
Taking into account the Reggio aspect, parents may have opportunities to take up documentation and transfer this skill to their homes. Valuing what your child learns in preschool is great, but learning never stops for children, so if you like learning different ways to document your child’s learning then being able to volunteer in a Regio inspired preschool is a double plus for you, the parents! 🙂
I also love the fact that with a Regio Emilia inspired classroom there can be different culminating events after children have worked hard on their own creations throughout the school year. Taking the time to schedule family events highlighting the wonderful and rich work your children construct is a great way for your child to show you what he/ she has accomplished. It is also a great way to meet other parents, plan play-dates, and yes talk to the teacher about pairing up with other parents to contribute either a special skill or talent to the school for the children. Working together and becoming a close-knit community happens when we respect the children and value what they are doing each day they play at school! Each time parents help out they are communicating how much they treasure and respect their child’s abilities. Parents also get a wonderful insight as to how their children interact with others and the types of personalities he/ she is drawn to while making friends.
Of course, in any early learning environment, parents should be invited to come and join the class. Your talent is one that all of the children can learn from and appreciate. And don’t worry if you don’t have a “special talent” to share, just being there to assist, observe and document the learning journey your child has taken is important and meaningful.
Share what you’ve been able to do in your child’s class! Share with us the talent you demonstrated and what the outcomes were from your experiences! 🙂
Thank you for stopping by The Marigold School of Early Learning! 🙂