Parents are children's primary educators throughout their lives.

Head Start Activities for Parental Involvement

by Michelle Fisk

You might have thought you left your school days behind, but once you have kids, it starts all over again. Parents are their kids number one educators. Head Start gets parents of the youngest school-goers involved in all aspects of the program including activities, decision making and community events. There are lots of fun ways for Head Start teachers to plan activities for parents.

1. Sports Clubs

See if you have the energy to keep up with kids in a sports club once a week. If the center has the outdoor space, go there for a soccer outing. Otherwise, a local park would work just as well. Parents can teach the children basic skills and rules of the game (or vice versa). Then, if the parents can keep up, they can have a scrimmage with the children so everyone can practice his skills. This is an ideal opportunity to get some fresh air and tire the kids out so they don't drive their parents crazy the rest of the night.

2. Special Events

To get parents in the doors, Head Start teachers can get creative by devising special events. Kids love when Dad comes to school, so promote that with a monthly breakfast with Dad. Hold events based on the time of year. A pumpkin carving event in October would get everyone in the Halloween spirit. You can even have a pumpkin patch to go along with it. Host a family picnic complete with games and special food toward the end of the school year. Or let the kids brag about their work when you invite parents to the center one evening. For an added twist, make it a theme night, such as science night, or just generalize it and show off art work and other creative skills.

3. Take-Home Activities

Some parents may have a difficult time getting to the center because of work. Make sure they have a chance to be involved by supplying them with take-home activities for the evenings and weekends. Make your job a little easier and base them on your lesson plans for the week so the kids practice the new skills they're learning. Give parents an opportunity to read with their children by having a reading bag with five books in it. The bag can be passed around once a week for each child to take home and read the books with their parents. Do this multiple times throughout the year. Have an activity, such as drawing a picture, to go along with it.

4. Volunteer Luncheon

Give the parents a well-deserved pat on the back and recognize the top volunteers with a volunteer luncheon at the end of the school year. Have parents and children help put the event together. Parents can vote on the theme, and they, along with their children, can help make the centerpieces with art supplies at the Heat Start center. Local businesses can donate door prizes and maybe even supply the food. Children can make the decorations, serve the food to the parents and sing a special song. Provide a certificate to those parents who have given the most time throughout the year.

About the Author

Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.

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