SHARED By: Jessica Volkers, Teacher at Early Learning Foundations Preschool
Teachers and administrators take a great deal of time creating an atmosphere in our schools and our classrooms that feels just right. We organize our classrooms, create curriculum and set-up the classroom environment, however, our work isn’t complete until the last finishing touch to building a classroom has arrived; the children and their families.
Families play a vital role inside the classroom. They are part of our classroom community. When parents and other family members are involved and aware of the curriculum and given opportunities to bring their thoughts, ideas and talents into the classroom, it builds a strong home and school connection. Whenever a family member asks to join the classroom, I listen to their thoughts and ideas to see which direction they want to go. Then I offer them support in carrying out their idea by gathering materials and preparing and setting up tables.
This past month the Panda Cub Classroom has been lucky enough to have two of our families lead a classroom activity.
Since Easter is around the corner, one of our Panda Cubs requested to decorate Easter eggs with his friends to celebrate his birthday! There were three steps to this activity: first the children chose their color for their eggs (they each made three eggs), then they dipped their egg inside, waited for it to dry and then stuck wonderful Easter stickers on their eggs. The children were thrilled! They were even given an Easter Basket with their eggs and more stickers to enjoy.
One of our student’s out-of-town grandmother is a preschool librarian and was visiting her family here in New York. I invited her into our classroom to read her favorite story, “Move Over Rover” by Karen Beaumont. I prepared pictures for our class felt board that she was able to use while she read. Then, the children had a chance to act out the story together. They practiced being actors and audience members. This was such a great experience for the children.
In an emergent curriculum, the students and teachers work together to co-create their experience. When we have the opportunity to share it with a family member, it makes it that much more special!
Through her work as an early childhood educator, Jessica encourages children to explore their world and become intrinsic, self-motivated learners. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from SUNY New Paltz and a master’s degree in Literacy Education form Hunter College CUNY. Jessica also enjoys taking pictures, baking and decorating cakes. She has a cat named Snowball and a dog named Ryu.