The parents at the Woodland Park Cooperative Preschools are also students. I’m not just talking symbolically. They are all tuition paying, credit earning students enrolled at North Seattle Community College. They even all receive student cards so they can qualify for discounts.
I’m sure most of the parents don’t think about their status as students very often. I know I didn’t when I was a co-op parent, but once a week our parent educator is in the room for the express purpose of teaching the parents. Beyond that, once a month as part of our parent meeting, Woodland Park families take part in a parent education session lead by the educator.
If there is one thing former students tell me they miss about preschool, it’s either the sensory table or the unicycle merry-go-round. If there is one thing former parents say they miss, it’s the parent education.
Last night our 3-5 class educator Elizabeth Bird led us in a session that took us around the room giving each parent the opportunity to profile her child. I’ve worked with a number of educators, each with her own style, but one common element is to start the year with some version of this exercise, and I always love it.
Since parents work as my assistant teachers, this is valuable information that will help them be more effective. We learn about each child’s temperment, likes and dislikes, best methods for soothing, and challenges.
This is an important check-point for me as well. Since this is our 3-5’s class, I’ve known most of the children for a minimum of a year and often longer. I like to think I have a pretty good handle on the kids by the time they reach this class, but there is nothing like hearing about a child from a parent’s perspective to make sure I’m seeing the same child they are.
Last night, I was thrilled to hear parent-after-parent describe the kids I already know. In fact, as each of the parents finished I had to bite my tongue to avoid adding to what they said or offering a cute, illustrative story from the classroom. This is a powerful position from which to be teaching.