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June 1, 2017 
Vol. 47 No. 5
Cooperatively Speaking
The Latest News from PCPI

A few weeks ago I was leaving school at the end of the day and bumped into a woman in the parking lot who was loading a large slice of wood from a downed tree into the trunk of her car. We chatted about the beauty of the the tree, what caused it's demise, and how the remnant would best be used.  I told her I wished the people with chainsaws would cut the trunk up and just leave the pieces on the playground for the kids to climb, move, and explore, which brought us to the subject of preschool.

As it turned out, the woman was uber-involved in her children's cooperative preschool in California many years ago, and was a huge proponent of co-op education.  Our bond over the love of the tree was instantly strengthened.  Over the summer she will be preparing to move back to the west coast, and she asked if she could donate all of the art supplies and interesting loose parts she kept for her now-older grandchildren to our school before she goes.

I love it when I experience little cooperative connections, and I'm sure these kinds of things happen to you, too.  I'd love to hear about them!

Dianne Rose, M.Ed.
Editor, Cooperatively Speaking

Parent (and Teacher) Education
by Dianne Rose
Providing parent education has traditionally been a part of what preschools do. Topics of interest to parents are often centered on child development, building social/emotional skills, kindergarten readiness, behavior and discipline. Finding a subject and/or speaker that appeals to a large audience that addresses the needs of both new and seasoned parents with children at varying ages can be challenging.  

This year we decided to try something new at our school.  One of our parents who is a career social worker, attended an individual webinar called Raising Race Conscious Children.  As a white woman raising a child of color, she initially pursued the training for personal reasons, but she came out of the session feeling like she had hands on strategies that could be put in place in the classroom right away, and she wanted to share. 

Our board was immediately supportive of the idea of bringing a workshop on race consciousness to our school, but we faced a number of challenges.  First, the facilitators were in New York and we were in Virginia.  Second, their webinar was geared toward individual attendees or very small groups, but we needed to accommodate about 40 people at once.  Third, the webinar normally took 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and we could only allot an hour and a half.  Last, it was much more expensive than what we had budgeted.

" We often avoid talking about race with our young children but, whether we like it or not, children notice similarities and differences between people. When we are silent, they are left to draw their own conclusions about what "different" means. Without coaching or support, their conclusions often reflect and reinforce biases. Fortunately - when we are intentional - we can impact the ways that our children see, categorize, and make meaning about race. "         
- RaceConscious.org

Despite the challenges, everyone agreed that this training was important and relevant, and we needed to make it happen.  The parent who proposed the idea generously offered to fund a large portion of the cost to make the training affordable for the school.  Our director worked with the workshop creators to customize an interactive session that would fit our group, and she found a community room we could rent for the evening that gave us the technical support (wi-fi, screen, projector, sound system) we needed to accommodate parents and staff.

Because we are normally a very low-tech operation, we had a few glitches getting things up and running, mostly having to do with sound.  Despite the little problems, reviews from parents was that the webinar was extremely valuable and they left with ideas that could be used immediately with children in the classroom and at home.  It was a great way to start conversation among adults, too. If anything, parents wished the training had been longer.  

If you are interested in finding out more, an interactive Raising Race Conscious Children workshop/webinar for individuals (or very small groups) will take place on June 22.  Registration is $45 and is open through June 15.


Have a successful parent education program that you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear about it and share it in Cooperatively Speaking!  Email pcpinewsletter@gmail.com.

It's Summer - The Kids Get to Take Out The Garbage
by Kathy Lynn

Kathy and her grandchildren
Kathy Lynn is a parenting expert who is a professional speaker, columnist and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. Kathy is the Parenting Education Advisor to the Council of Parent Participation Preschools in British Columbia as well as an honorary lifetime member, and is an active member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. For information or to book Kathy for a speaking engagement, go to her website at www.ParentingToday.ca

__ ______
It happens often. I'm speaking to a group of parents of young teens when one parent says to me, "She's fourteen years old and won't even start supper. What can I do?"

My response is a question: "When did you start teaching her how to cook? And when did you start expecting her to help with meal preparation?" All too often this is greeted with a blank stare and a repetition that after all she's fourteen years old and should be able to start dinner. 

It's not inherent. While a youngster will reach puberty no matter what we do, she won't suddenly have the skills we think should follow. I'm over sixty years old and can't run wire to an electrical box. But I know lots of people, men and women, who are quite able to handle this task. At some point they were taught, they did it with some sort of supervision and now it's a skill they have. This is how we develop skills.

There are many reasons why we need to involve our kids in the running of the house. The obvious one is that when they are ready to live on their own, they will need to know how to cook and clean. A more immediate reason is that, believe it or not, this will help them to develop positive self-esteem. Kids love to be needed in the running of the house, they feel good when they learn a task and succeed, the whole family benefits and they love to work with their parents.

When my son Foley was about two-and-a-half, he helped his Dad, John, put up drywall. John put a can of nails on a small, sturdy stool. He asked Foley to please get him a nail. Foley would reach into the can, bring the nail to his father and watch as he hammered it into the stud. And the job was over. Now, he had a choice; he could stay and continue working with his dad or go and play. He chose to stay and for two hours he diligently brought nails, one at a time, to his father. Now, was this the most efficient way for John to complete this job? Of course not. Usually he would have had the nails handy in the pocket of his apron and hammered away. But efficiency should not always be the goal. The drywall did make it onto the studs, our son learned about the role of nails and drywall in creating a solid wall, the two had a great afternoon together and for years afterwards both could look at the wall and know they had built it together.

Kids can start helping out at a very young age and summer holidays is a great time to make a start. I'm not suggesting that you put your kids on an eight-hour housework day, but there is some extra time. Not all jobs are as satisfying as putting up drywall, but learning how to cook can be immensely satisfying. Book some time with them in the kitchen so you can start to teach them how to put a meal on the table.

There are some tricks to getting your kids involved. The first is to reconsider your standards. Your kids won't do it to your standards. Guaranteed. But as long as they are doing their best, relax. If you spend all your time re-doing their work, they just aren't going to try to do well.
Teach them how to do the job. We often assume that because what we are asking is, by our reckoning basic and simple, that they will just know how to do it. Whether it's setting the table, picking up their toys or separating eggs, they need to be taught.

And give your kids choices. They need to do some work around the house but can choose whether to dust the living room or wash the kitchen floor. When kids have some choice of chores, they are more willing to do the work.

They don't have to like it. We often don't, so why should they? Have you ever wakened on a lovely Spring morning, yawned and grinned and said to yourself with glee, "Wow, today I get the clean the toilet!" Not likely. But you do the job. It's very liberating when your child whines "But I don't like doing my laundry," and you respond, "I didn't say you had to like it, you just have to do it."

Get started now. Let your children be productive family members. Don't ask too much, but do ask. Everyone will benefit. Your children will grow to become capable young adults and you will find the workload much easier to handle when everyone works together.

Cooperatively Speaking with friends!

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Parent Cooperative Preschools International (PCPI)