Parental involvement is important in children's education, particularly in the early years. Creative O Preschoolers’ Bay takes parent engagement to a whole new level, viewing parents as educators in their own right and allowing them to meaningfully contribute to lessons and activities.
As Ms Tan Beng Luan, Principal of Creative O Preschoolers' Bay, puts it, “Only with strong relationships between educators and parents can children’s growth and development be well taken care of. They also allow effective learning and shaping of character to take place. When parents and teachers are of one mind, ultimately the children benefit.”
At Creative O, parents are engaged in their children's development from day one - from curriculum to learning journeys, character building, community involvement and parental skills development.
Enlisting Parents As Educators
Parents are a child’s first educators, so getting their support in education and development makes perfect sense. It is essential to treat them as active partners in the development of their children, not just as customers. Coming from all walks of life, parents are a diverse, committed, and invaluable resource to educators.
“The school encourages parents to come during allocated class time to share special skills, for example baking a dessert, cooking a dish or simply to share a special talent,” said Ms Yong, whose son attends Creative O. “This allows parents to be more involved in their children’s learning while being active participants in the curriculum.”
“When the school and parents work together in close partnership, the experience is much richer and empowering for both the kids and parents.”- Mr Loke, Parent
Today, teachers are able to leverage a wide range of communications channels to maintain regular dialogue with parents. For example, chat groups can be set up on various smart-device platforms to allow busy parents and teachers to stay in touch with each other, anytime and anywhere.
"The teachers engage parents via a WhatsApp chat group, and share their observations of our children, as well as share with us relevant articles on guiding young children," said Mr Loke, father of twins at Creative O.
"The school also conducts one or two sharing sessions per year for parents with children of the same level, on topics such as helping young children develop problem-solving skills, managing their emotions, and preparing for primary school."
Few things empower one more than being asked to be part of a team. Creative O does that for its parents by inviting them to help out in various events throughout the year, such as beach clean-ups, Sports Carnival and Grandparents’ Day.
Playing a part in planning and execution makes them feel more involved in their children’s development, helps develop better parent-teacher bonds, and inspires their children at the same time.
“I remember the first activity I did with my son’s class when he was in nursery”, said Ms Yong. “We learnt how to make a simple egg salad wrap dish. My son was very proud that his mother was able to prepare and demonstrate how to create this dish. I believe he knew that my presence there was a show of love not just for him, but for all his classmates, too.”
Do parents really see value in being involved in learning centre activities? Going by the experience at Creative O, where parents have organised events since 2006 to thank the centre, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. This was particularly evident at the centre’s K2 graduation party last year.
Parents developed the theme for the appreciation party and formed an organising team to handle the multitude of tasks — decorations, mementos, invitations and buffet dinner, among others. The children were in charge of the entertainment programme, much to the delight of the teachers.
“The teachers really appreciated our efforts in planning this graduation party. It was a bitter sweet moment as we reminisced the wonderful memories created, while managing the emotions of moving on to the next chapter,” Ms Yong recalled.
As the principal, Ms Tan, related, “This year, the parents surprised us by presenting song and dance items, as well as a short skit which the parents had secretly rehearsed with the kids. The performances were wonderful!”
The icing on the cake was a specially crafted thank you letter. “Words are not enough to express how much encouragement the letter and the entire party have given us as educators,” added Ms Tan.
“Each teacher also received an award that reflected their personality,” said Ms Yong. “This was a token of gratitude and thanks to them for all their hard work and devotion towards our children.”
Learn how you too can take your centre’s parental engagement to new levels here!