Invite parents to join group time to help children learn how everyone works together in the community.

"That's my dad!" Ricky whispers to his friend Arlo as they sit together at group time. Ricky's dad is passing his hard hat and tool belt around for all the children to try on.

"Wow," says Isabelle. "Can I put this on?"

"Look at me!" says Tamisha, peeking out from under the brim of the hat.

Children love to have parents visit and share their work experiences. Involving a parent in group time goes a long way toward creating a warm feeling of family in the class.

Neighborhood People and Places

Inviting parents or extended family members to talk about their careers provides strong adult role models for all the children in the group, in addition to teaching them about the people and places in their community.

Involving parents is also one of the best ways to teach children about diversity. Hearing about a wide range of careers lets children see the variety in their own backyard.

Real-World Relationships

While you're exploring a theme with children, arrange for guest speakers in related fields to visit. A writing project can be enhanced by a visit from a librarian, writer, bookstore owner, or editor. Better yet, if two parents have related jobs a writer and an editor -- invite them as a pair to explain how they help each other.

Another good way to select visitors is to pick up on children's interests and include them in deciding whom to invite.

Careers in Context

Set the scene the day before the visit by sharing a job-related item that belongs to the parent and asking children to guess who might wear or use it. Then share a book about the kind of work the parent does or show photos of where she works.

Extend the topic by providing related books and dramatic-play props. Add a few new items each day, starting the day before the visit and continuing for several days afterward.

Listening to parents describe their jobs will teach children about the world they live in and make them proud of their parents. As moms and dads participate, they'll feel involved and appreciated - and your classroom will be more of a community than ever!