Parent Centers - Program gets moms, dads involved

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Central students Ty Berns, Grant Burns and Kiya Moser-Weber play a game of BINGO at the November Parent Center last week.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

 

A program launched a few years ago by Central teachers Katie Wiley and Andrea Zittergruen continues to get high marks from local parents and grandparents. Called “Parent Centers,” it opens to the doors to elementary classrooms on a regular basis to moms and dads—and sometimes, grandparents—who want to volunteer in their youngster’s room.

“Many parents want to be involved and volunteer but it’s hard (to mesh) their work schedules and other obligations with our schedule,” said kindergarten teacher Zittergruen. “This gives them a chance to plan ahead so they can make arrangements at work or set up childcare for younger children at home.”

Wiley, who teaches first grade, also has Parent Centers. Planning on the teachers’ end begins at the start of the school year. Each parent is ask if they’d be interested in volunteering and if so, how often. 

“I plan the frequency of the centers according to what my classroom parents can given,” Zittergruen explained. “It usually ends up being once a month for an hour. I schedule four parents a month and rotate through my list depending on their availability.”

Parent Centers are usually scheduled on Fridays. Zittergruen divides the class into four groups and each group spends 15 minutes on one of four activities—and then they rotate so that by the end of the hour, every student has had a chance to do all four activities. The centers usually include a game, a couple of different crafts, and a snack that’s made or decorated.

Wiley has a slightly larger number of students so she has five centers. The activity for the fifth center varies.

Parents take the lead in each center though, of course, the classroom teachers and associates—also a critical part of the program—are there to help, as needed.

“The activities are typically based on the events that are taking place during that month,” said Zittergruen. For example, last Friday students and parents had Thanksgiving-themed activities. They played holiday BINGO, transformed plain sugar cookies into turkeys, and practiced their weaving skills on paper plate birds.

Zittergruen will send the spring semester schedule to parents before the winter holiday break. If parents are unable to volunteer, grandparents can attend in their place. First grade parents sometimes participate, as well, since the kindergarten and first grade are now combined.

“The kids love having moms dads and grandparents in our classroom to do fun activities, and I think (the adults) feel the same,” added Zittergruen. “Both kids and adults leave tired after a fun hour!”

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