If parents don’t know what active learning looks like in a preschool classroom, they may think their kids are “just playing” all day. Since education today is very different from what adults probably remember of their own schooling, holding regular parent workshops helps make sure everyone’s on the same page and gives families a sneak peak into your classroom and curriculum. Plus, preschool parent workshops provide an opportunity to show parents how they can support and expand learning at home. Here are three easy, hands-on preschool parent workshop ideas from the book Bringing Active Learning Home: Workshops for Preschool Parents.
Activity 1: Story Time
Language, Literacy, and Communication (15 Minutes)
Many parents read to their preschoolers regularly. But what does story time look like at home? Is it one-way street where parents simply read the words on the pages and then close the book? This activity helps parents understand that when they take time to talk about the pictures in the book, listen to their children’s ideas about the story, and help them connect it to real life, they’re also helping their kids develop comprehension skills.
Step 1: Read a short picture book to participants. Simply read the book straight through without stopping to talk about the pictures or comment on the story.
Step 2: Read a second short picture book to participants. This time, use some of the strategies from the handout Encouraging Story Talk.
Step 3: Reveal the following questions on a PowerPoint slide, and on chart paper write participants’ responses to these questions.
Which story did you enjoy more?
Why did you enjoy it more?
Step 4: Ask participants to think about the difference between reading to children and reading with children. Share ideas as a whole group.
Step 5: Summarize the discussion with the following points:
- Reading stories with children should be enjoyable and interactive.
- When adults take the time to talk about the pictures in the book, listen to children’s ideas about the story, and make connections between the story and real life, children develop a deeper understanding of the story.
Download the step-by-step guide to the full 60-minute workshop “Reading Books With Children” here.
Activity 2: Morning and Afternoon Conversations
Social-Emotional Development (5 Minutes)
Helping little kids manage big feelings is a challenge in most homes. This activity works well as an opening segment during a social-emotional parent workshop that shares strategies for effectively talking with children. It helps parents begin to understand how using different conversation strategies at home can promote or hinder communication with their children.
Step 1: Ask two participant-volunteers to read the Morning Conversation script with you. Assign one volunteer to read the family member role and the other volunteer to read the child role. You will read the teacher role.
Step 2: Ask two different participants to read the After-School Conversation script.
Step 3: Notice participants’ reactions to the conversation and discuss their answers to these questions:
Does this type of conversation sound familiar?
- Who is primarily in control of the conversation in each situation?
- Who is doing the thinking?
Step 4: Explain that during this workshop, family members will try out different strategies: asking closed-ended questions, asking open-ended questions, and making observations. They will then determine whether each strategy promotes or inhibits conversation.
Download the step-by-step guide to the full 60-minute workshop “Talking With Your Child” here.
Activity 3: DIY Squeeze Balls
Fine Motor Development (10 Minutes)
Often parents expect that soon after their kids enter preschool they’ll be writing their names like pros. But they don’t always think about the physical development that has to take place before their kids are ready to use a pencil to form letters. You can help parents understand fine motor development with a workshop that focuses on ways to help their little ones strengthen and train the muscles in their hands and fingers. This DIY squeeze ball activity is a fun way to wrap up your workshop and provides parents with a ready-to-go fine motor exercise they can take home and use right away with their kids.
Step 1: Share with participants that a fun way for children to strengthen their hand and finger muscles is to squeeze things in their hands, such as small stress balls, which are often filled with gel or sand. These balls can also often be useful for entertaining children while they are riding in the car, waiting for an appointment, or waiting to be served at a restaurant.
Step 2: Invite parents to make stress balls to take home for their children to squeeze. Show the following directions on a PowerPoint slide.
- Select three balloons.
- Use a funnel to fill one of the balloons with the material provided (sand, salt, flour) and tie the balloon.
- Cut the tip off another balloon. Stretch this balloon over the first balloon to cover it.
- Repeat step 3 to create a stronger ball.
Download the step-by-step guide to the full 60-minute workshop, “Fine Motor Development,” here.
Want step-by-step guides with activities, talking points, and handouts for over 25 different, 60-minute preschool parent workshop ideas? Check out the book, Bringing Active Learning Home: Workshops for Preschool Parents.