Instead of the traditional approach to school-parent relationships in which the school is designated as the expert and tells parents what to do, Reggio Emilia principles suggest that schools engage parents in a diologue thorough which the parents' own perspectives, values, goals, interests, and strengths emerge. This new relationship is informed by an image of the parent as competent, rich in ideas, and interested in communicating with staff and other parents.
Once the image of the parent is embraced, there are many ways in which parents can contribute to creating an environment where the image of the child is celebrated. The following are but a few ways in which parents can be invited to become partners in their child's learning.
Hopes and Dreams Interview
Prior to the beginning of the school year or during the first month of school parents, with their child, are invited to come to school for a "Hopes and Dreams" interview. There are three facets to the interview
The advantages of the "Hopes and Dreams" interview are several:
It is important to take time to speak with parents when they drop off or pick up their child each day. Making parents feel welcome, will encourage those parents who may be reluctant to speak with the teacher more open to discussion. Possibly having a space just outside or in the classroom where parents can sit and look at children's work is recommended. Student's portfolios could reside there.
Not all parents come to school every day so using an reflection book (agenda) to inform parents of their child's activities, classroom needs and home support. The reflection book is used for two-way communication between parents and school.
Teachers are also encouraged to use email and to develop a website to communicate with parents.
Student Led Conferences / Portfolio Review
Once or twice a year parents are invited to listen to their child talk/show about their learning. This could take the form as a Learning Journey - where the child leads the patent(s) through the stages of an in-depth study. Stations that reflect aspects of the program (literacy, math, PE, the arts, etc.) can be set up and students lead parents through activities at each station. Part of the student led conference is the review of a student's portfolio...this is a celebration of the student's growth and accomplishments over the year. For more information you can download guidelines for Student Led Conferences and Portfolios
Monthly Community Discussions
Monthly Community discussions are meant to provide a place for parents and staff to come together, share perspectives, learn from one-another, and deepen their understanding about the program (Reggio, Literacy, PYP). It is conducted by teachers, the principal,and the PYP Coordinator and consists of a brief talk about the topic, followed by activities and or discussion.
TheThe meeting format generally includes:
The meeting should include:
Some topics for discussion are:
Involving Parents in Children's In-depth StudiesInvolving parents in children's in-depth studies will allow them to understand the program better, transfer what they learn to a home setting and become more supportive of the program. It means that parents will need to be "taught" how to interact with the children, ask questions, observe, and listen.The challenge for the teacher in these situations is to engage parents in ways that encourage them to foster the children's sense of agency.
Parents Collaborating With teachers in the Classroom and on Field Trips
The challenge for the teacher in these situations is to engage parents in ways that encourage them to foster the children's sense of agency. Such parent collaborations could include:
content for this post was taken from: We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in an Urban Setting.