Many families may have experienced a more teacher-directed type of early school experience and may find your use of open-ended and challenging activities a bit unusual. Here are some ways to communicate your approach effectively to parents:
- Explain to parents the importance of problem solving and creative thinking along with your approach to challenging their children. Help parents see how the collage of odd recycled materials that their child is bringing home took a great deal more thinking and design than a precut project where everyone made the same thing.
- Hold a family night where you can challenge families to do some of the same kinds of activities that the children do. You can begin by having family members color "ditto" sheets and then ask them what they REALLY learned. After the discussion, go to the centers and have family members solve challenging problems--such as how far will the truck roll when placed on a two-block ramp or a three-block ramp or more! At the end of this experience, parents will have the "feel" for what it is like to be challenged to think in their own way with new ideas or materials. (At one of these evenings that I conducted, a father-who I later found out was a lawyer-told me that this was the most thinking he had done all week!)
- Initiate parents into the process of using open-ended questioning. Write up a few examples that they can use around the house and send these home. When you send borrowed library books home with children, attach a file card with a few divergent questions parents might ask their children about the book. By offering these models, you are giving them new ideas for future kinds of questions to ask on their own.