Early Childhood Winning Ideas Contest: Top 5 Ideas on Creating Great Parent Meetings

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2

Congratulations to the winners of our Early Childhood Winning Ideas Monthly Contest! Each of these entrants - teachers just like you - won $50 in Scholastic products for sharing their ideas. Thanks to everyone who submitted to the contest. And remember to check the latest contest topic for more chances to win!

1. Lynn Starkey, Cascade View Preschool and Kindergarten, Sublmity, OR

I love getting the parents together in a room that is more "adult." It is hard to have a good time getting to know each other when they are sitting in chairs too close to the floor. (Try and get a dad to participate when he can't even get out of his chair!) I go into a banquet hall with tables and chairs set up with tablecloths and table center pieces. Also in the middle of the table I have name tags, colored gum, curriculum that we will be using during the year (for those parents who are curious), and pencils. Powerpoint is a great tool to use for background images of what you would like to speak about. I start the time with an activity that gets them to know each other while sitting at the table. (But as we all know, parents will sit next to parents they know. If someone doesn't know anyone they might even sit alone) By the time the first game is done, many have already began chewing the gum on the table. I ask those that don't have gum to pick a piece, chew it, and show their neighbor their tongue. The next thing is to find a group of parents that have the same color gum to ask these questions: What is your name? What is your child's name? What does their child like do do outside of school? This really broke the ice. Then I had everyone move! Ahhh! Talk about getting out of our comfort zone! I had every parent that had a son in class sit on one side of the room and if they had a girl on the other. It was easier for parents to connect. Later in the meeting, I used a great transition by using the Grabber Ball by Group Publishing. I played music (of course a CD that we would be using in class for our upcoming theme) and when the music stopped whoever had the ball had to answer the question their hand was on.

Since it takes a lot for parents to get out of their comfort zone and answer question I give great prizes. A Scholastic book of course! By the end of the meeting, parents are laughing, connecting, and more involved than ever before. It is awesome!

2. Wendy Hernandez, Central Unified School District, Fresno, CA

We did three kick off events for our parent meetings with the theme "Going Bananas Over Books!" We had fantastic responses from our parents! One school had 75 people in attendance and the other two had one hundred people there! These sites have had problems getting parent participation at events in the past. We also gave away books with monkey themes to the families and had our Library Services director read "Five little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed". We had a photographer that took family pictures that the parents just loved. The biggest hit were the banana splits that we served to all that attended! We had our parent educator doing a station that was making bookmarks with the families.  We also had a station that demonstrated how to read to your child with our monkey puppet "George". We had agencies there to speak to parents about adult education classes and the Bookmobile that visits their area. The parents were involved and were so excited to be a part of our event! At the end we had a raffle with three prizes including family literacy activities for them to do at home. We attribute the success of this event to: the banana splits, the family pictures, the activities, the support personnel and the raffle we offered. We have many parents now interested in taking parent education classes and being more involved as parent volunteers in the preschool classes. Some of the parents have also shown an interest in furthering their education as they enroll in adult education classes. It was also wonderful to spark their interest in accessing the library more and visiting the Bookmobile. We now have the parents very interested in seeing what we will do at our next meeting in November!

3. Rebekah Whyte, Manual School, Taylorsville, UT

Kids love to show off for their parents. First, I have the children trace and cut themselves out. Then they color the cut outs to look look like themselves. They put these in their seats so the parents can find their seats. Also parents love treats so I have gingerbread men cookies that the children can decorate to look like the parents. You could imagine the giggles and the attention I get from the parents. now they are ready for the Thursday folder that is sent every Thursday and returned every Friday. I have built many fun relationships with parents this way.

4. Meridith Fisher, Spring Hill Elementary, Mclean, VA

At the end of each quarter, I brainstorm with the kids all the things that we have done and learned in school for those 9 weeks. After we generate a long list, I tell the children that they are going to create a quiz for their parents that I will give them when I meet with them for conferences. The idea of their parents being quizzed really excites them! Each student makes a flipbook (or there are other ways you can do it with foldable books) with four statements exposed at the top of each tab. The four statements I used were:

  • My proudest moment was...
  • My most challenging moment was...
  • My favorite thing about this quarter was...
  • My least favorite thing about this quarter was...

Underneath the tab, the child finishes the statement including a reason for their answer. By the way, I don't allow the kids to use recess or lunch as answers! At conference time, I tell the parents that their child has made a quiz for them about school attitudes. The great part is when parents know the answers to the questions, they feel really great about their role in communicating with their child about their learning. Even better is when parents don't know the answers and you can tell them that it might be time to start asking their child about their school day. It's a win-win situation that makes for good revelations about the student and the parents!

5. Sara, Mancelona Child Development Head Start, Mancelona, MI

Some of our best parent meetings have been the hands on ones. Usually these are our family fun events. At Christmas time we have a family fun event where the families make gifts. We provide the stuff to make cookies in a jar and other craft ideas that the kids can do (these ideas vary from year to year depending on the parents). These events the parents help plan and carry out which really encourages parent involvement and this often carries over when their children enter elementary school.

We also set up a family game night where we share ideas about different games the parents can make and set up stations for them to make the games. We provide door prizes that the parents can win, which include a variety of board games that will help to encourage family togetherness as well as help provide learning opportunities at home.

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