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Neighbors of DuPage

Parent University: It’s never too late to learn something new

Jan 12, 2017 11:52AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

The fifth “Parent University” featured “Weird Science.” Parents experienced some new methods to teach science. Left to Right: Ashley Frye, Becky Knapp, Brittany Polly, Melissa Winter, Ashley Daly, Kerry Senesac, Mary Andersen, Diane Nelson, and Marcela Buhrke.

by Mary Andersen, DeLay School

In the spring of 2015, there were a lot of curriculum shifts happen­ing in the primary and elemen­tary buildings of District #61. We adopted a new reading/language arts series the previous school year and were in our first year of a new math series. As teachers we were trying to find the balance between “the way we used to teach” and the “new methods to better service all students.” Even with backgrounds in education, teachers felt some growing pains and struggled to find the time to fit everything in. With that in mind, we were sensitive to the differences in the homework that students were bringing home and what parents were seeing in the backpacks. We understood the im­portance of working together for the success of your students and wanted to help in any way.

To further bridge the home/school connection, and teach parents some of the “tricks of the trade,” DeLay School began offering “Parent Universities” on varying subjects. Our first topic, in March 2015, was Go Math!--our new math series. We partnered with Lace School for this first one and offered a “Par­ent University” to give assistance in navigating the online portion of our series and answer any questions parents may have on how to help their student at home. We had a laptop cart in the gym for parents to check out a machine and login as their student. They were able to walk through the online tools and learn how to support their child at home.

While continuing with the theme of math, since math is all around us, Mark DeLay School hosted a “Hands on Math” night in May 2015. There were several stations set up in the gym for parents to ex­perience math centers using simple household items. Parents learned that they can use a deck of playing cards or dice to help their child with math facts. There was also a “food” center where parents learned how to use anything from Cheerios to Goldfish crackers to help with num­ber recognition and counting. The children played math games with the district staff of K.I.D.S. Club, too. Each parent left with a folder that contained copies of each center and a goody bag with dice, a deck of cards, pencil, eraser and a bag of Goldfish crackers. The parents were also given ideas on how to extend the math centers so they can continue to grow with their child as they master their math skills.

In support of fostering a lifelong love of reading, we demonstrated several activities that parents can use at home to boost literacy skills at our third “Parent University” in November 2015. The theme of our event was “Llama, Llama Red Pa­jama.” The children came in their fa­vorite set of pajamas and did literacy activities, listened to several books and enjoyed hot chocolate and munchkins at K.I.D.S. Club. Each child left with a “Llama, Llama”. . .book and there were raffle prizes given out. Once again the parents received a folder that contained cop­ies of each of the activities and how to practice them at home. We also had a representative from the Indian Prairie Library who gave informa­tion about how to get a library card and other services that they provide.

To help promote a love of healthy eating and movement, we demon­strated several movement activities and easy healthy eating choices that families can use at home. The theme of our fourth “Parent Univer­sity” in February 2016 was “Get Up and Move.” We welcomed par­ents and children to come in their favorite set of workout gear. The parents learned how to sign up for a free “gonoodle” account, do simple yoga poses, incorporate math into movement and much, much, more. The students did movement breaks and had a dance party at K.I.D.S. Club. We also had The Sunny Patch Project here sharing information about growing your own vegetables. Just as before, the parents left with handouts so they could replicate the different movement activities at home.

The fifth “Parent University” in our series was “Weird Science” in October 2016. There are some new methods to teach science and we wanted the parents to feel the experience. They were invited to go through the four disciplinary core ideas of the NGSS (Next Generation Science Stan­dards) and perform simple experi­ments. The “cool” thing was they were all experiments that used items you would have around the house. We wanted families to be able to go home and try these experiments on their own, too. The NGSS aren’t about the end product, it’s about the process. We showed parents that everyone’s process might be a little different, but that’s what makes it interesting. The kids were in the gym with K.I.D.S. Club learning about science and exploring differ­ent sensory materials.

So…what’s next? DeLay School wants to continue their “Parent University” series and we want to find out what you’re curious about and want to investigate. Our hope is to offer a little something for everyone. If you have an idea for a “Parent University” please contact Mary Andersen at 630-869-5803 or or Lisa Kompare at 630-869-5802 or We would love to hear from you!

A special thank you to the K.I.D.S. Club staff for offering free childcare during these events, which makes it possible for more parents to attend.

Thanks to all of the parents who have supported our events and the ones who look forward to attending new ones.

And a huge thank you to all of the teachers who volunteer their time for these events so we can continue to strengthen the home/school con­nection.