We all do it. Repeating an action over and over even though the process or outcome isn’t what was desired, because it’s what we’ve always done and it takes a “duh” moment to shake you out of it. Mine (at least one of them) was our annual parent meeting.
Every fall we host an adult-only parent meeting. We review events and activities that will be happening throughout the year, fundraising opportunities, what we do and how we do it. We have a slide show that I recycle each year updating photos periodically that outlines my talking points. The parents spend time listening to me yammer on about play-based, child-led curriculum and how beneficial it is for their children. They spend time in their child’s classroom participating in an open discussion about developmental issues that they will be experiencing over the course of the next year, and they get a couple of minutes to socialize with one another.
This year, our annual meeting was scheduled for a few weeks post flood. For those not from around Baton Rouge, we experienced a devastating rain event at the beginning of August that caused wide-spread flooding in our community. If you were not directly impacted with water inundating your home or business, someone in your family or one of your friends was. Needless to say, everyone was too busy to be able to make it to the meeting, so we decided to cancel. It was only the second time in 17 years that I have had to cancel the meeting. The first time was when a hurricane blew through. As I was thinking about rescheduling the meeting and maybe doing it a different way this year, I got to thinking about the purpose and the why; what were our goals and why do we do a fall parent meeting. That’s when the “duh” moment hit. We do this primarily for parents to meet one another and to be able to talk with our staff without the distraction of little people. So if that
was our purpose, then why are we doing what we were doing in the way we were doing it? Sure, it’s nice to be able to spout on about play being important and THE only way children learn and retain new information and how children who are fortunate to attend programs like ours are better set for the rigors of “big school” all the way through college to a captive audience of believers. But that’s just it. Our families ARE believers and they already understand the importance of play, that’s why they chose our program over the academically based program down the road. See? Duh! Time to rethink how we facilitate our main goal. Out with the meeting and in with cocktail hour!
We met last Saturday at The Radio Bar. Everyone brought something yummy to share and because we met at happy hour, we practically had the place to ourselves. Parents came. Staff came. We talked, laughed, and played darts. We talked about all kinds of things, kids, parenting book recommendations, camping, developmental milestones, movies, respectful discipline, where to go out after. It was fun! An
d most importantly, it far exceeded our goal! Parents met one another, they had the opportunity to learn more about our staff, and they got to spend a couple of hours talking with other adults who share some of the same values and
parenting styles they hold. We will definitely do that again! As for all the other stuff we usually cover at that meeting, isn’t that what email, Facebook, Instagram and blog posts are for? I do have to say, it was really hard to let that slide show go but I can always use it when I visit other centers and do their training, right?
So I have to say, my school is cooler than yours and if your school doesn’t have happy hour parent meetings, maybe you should look into mine!