Parents' Forum is an opportunity for parents to get together and discuss issues relating to parenting children. It takes place after the Junior School Assembly from 8.45am to 9.30am on Dr Gibbons Verandah. This semester's topics and dates are provided here.
Grade 5 Jinja Trip and Exhibition
Today’s forum was focused specifically on the Grade 5 trip to Jinja and introduced parents to the journey towards the PYP Exhibition, where children take charge of their learning for six weeks. The exhibition is the culmination of the PYP, where students use their understanding and skills to inquire into an issue of their choosing, and with the help of their mentor, work as a team to discover, share and take action. The trip to Jinja is used as a launch point to collect ideas and form teams for the exhibition.
Today we discussed the plan to introduce e-portfolios to the Junior School. We have piloted the use of SeeSaw portfolios in Early Childhood, Grades 1 to 3 during the course of the year. The portfolios have also been introduced to parents in Early Childhood so that they receive regular updates of their child’s learning. More information will follow in the coming months and the use of e-portfolios will begin across the Junior School from August 2018.
Today Hannah Gray and Daniel Todd revisited the issue of child protection which will be explored again during this semester in the homeroom classes. We discussed with families the importance of empowering children to know what is safe and how to stay safe. Hannah will explore these issues alongside the homeroom teachers in the coming weeks.
Ann White shared with parents about how to develop a culture of reading at home, with tips and ideas to make reading an enjoyable and fun time for the whole family. Some important points that she mentioned:
- The more you read with your children the more knowledge they will absorb.
- When you share a book with your children, you are doing something very special.
- For those few minutes, the outside world stops as you read about elephants, pirates, or fairies.
- For those who do not enjoy fiction you can learn about other lands, space, explorers and much more.
- Research proves that children who love to read do better at school in all subjects.
But most importantly that reading should be fun!
Outdoor Learning & Play
Today's Parents’ Forum focused on Outdoor Learning and Play, we watched a clip of Richard Louv discussing the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder. The discussion focused on some ways that we can encourage outdoor play at home. We discussed different activities and opportunities to enjoy our natural world together. If you would like to review these please see this handout that was shared.
Technology at Home
Today's parents' forum focused on the challenges of technology at home and school. The discussion was facilitated by our Tech Coach Mr. Todd von Seggern who reiterated the message of the Junior School Assembly that we would like the children to understand how to use technology in balance with other tools for learning. Mr. Todd shared some examples of how technology is used in the classroom to support learning as well as some suggestions of how to control technology use at home. A device agreement was one way that technology can be managed so that children and adults agree on reasonable use of the device. Mr. Todd also shared a list of apps and websites that they school uses, these are linked here. There were also issues raised regarding homework and language skills which will be revisited in the Semester 2.
This week at Parents’ Forum, Susanne Deurr and Hannah Gray discussed Positive Parenting, which is a parenting approach that focuses on teaching our children to be good people through dialogue and showing them how to make things right, as opposed to using more punitive tactics. Positive Parenting recognizes that parenting is an emotional journey that has many challenges alongside the successes. As parents, we need to work with our children to unravel the motivation behind their challenging behaviour whilst simultaneously allowing them to explore the world around them and grow. By using Positive Parenting when our children act out, a negative event can be turned into 'teaching moment', wherein they learn why their behaviour wasn’t ideal, along with better ways of acting or reacting in any given situation. At the same time, as parents, we are also continually learning how to act and react to our children’s behaviour in a way that helps them grow and become more empathetic people. This may mean that at times we also need the ‘time-out’ in order to calm down, gather our thoughts, and come up with the most proactive and developmentally appropriate way to address behavioural issues.
If you would like to continue this conversation at a later point in the school year, either in Parent Forum or another setting. If you have any questions, concerns or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Languages in Junior School
Today parent’s forum was designed to be a focus group exploring the proposal of introducing more additional languages to the Junior School. The results of the survey were shared here, while Daniel Todd explored some of the considerations and parameters of making affordable changes to language provision. The next step of this process will be to provide parents with a specific list of language options to choose from before the end of the semester.. This information will be used to finalize decisions for language provision and recruitment of teachers.
Word Study & Handwriting
Another area of change and review is the role of spelling and handwriting within our vision of language learning in the Junior School. Ryan Hopkins-Wilcox presented some of the considerations that our language committee is exploring and shared with parents are philosophy towards handwriting and spelling. There was a lot of discussion about the importance of spelling, but Ryan also cautioned parents not be over anxious about spelling at the cost of children’s interest and enthusiasm in writing.
Learning Support - Overview of the Changes
Today’s parent’s forum was an opportunity to hear about the changes to the provision of learning support. Our three learning support teachers Ann White, Claire Infield and Deborah Bradshaw shared some examples of how learning support works. A summary of the key changes are provided here. Parents were very positive with the changes that have been made and we shall continue to adjust and modify the programme to ensure student’s learning needs a supported effectively.
Building Independence & Overnight Trips
Parents’ forum focused on building independence and the school’s plan for providing opportunities for overnight trip experiences for the students. Students will be introduced to an overnight at school in Grade 3, through stargazing in May. Grade 4 students will be travelling to Jinja to view some of the energy generating resources in April and Grade 5 students have two overnight experiences, the refugee simulation at school and a two day overnight in March to prepare for the Grade 5 exhibition. Hannah Gray also shared some ideas for building independence at home, these are available here.
Reading, Homework Menu & 3-Way Conference
This week’s parents forum focused on reading, the homework menu and the three-way conferences scheduled for October 13. Ann White began by explaining the importance of reading with your child on a daily basis. She shared some tips for reading with your child which can be view here. We then followed on with feedback from parents about the success of the homework menu. Many families shared that they have enjoyed learning with their children and that the activities have provided a number opportunities to partner in the learning journey. A few suggestions were made about ensuring that the activities are clear and that some created tiered levels of challenge, which will shall use to improve the learning experience. Finally, we explained that this year's October conference would be a three-way conference. The children are expected to attend and will help lead the conference by sharing their success and areas for growth. Teachers and parents will also have an opportunity to share the successes they have seen and how they plan to support the learning. Appointment forms will be released parents on Friday 29 Sept.
Kelso's Choices & Games for Home
During today’s Parents’ Forum Hannah Gray, shared Kelso’s Choices and provided some background to the programme in helping children to learn to solve small social problems without adult intervention. The discussion also explored some games and activities that can be played at home or on long journeys. Some of the suggestions are provided here and a link to Kelso’s Wheel is here.
Today Hannah Gray, led us through a discussion in managing transitions. We particularly focused on the transition to a new country and school that many of our new families have been facing over the past few weeks. The discussion also explored how returning from a home country to Uganda can also be difficult as we may have reconnected with family, friends and familiar places. The were a number of helpful points mentioned, about making sure that we acknowledge our feelings and share them. We also discussed how parents may need to keep their frustrations to themselves, so that the children can make the transition without bias. Hannah shared the transition process that families will often go through and provided a handout with a number of strategies that can help families manage these changes. The handout is available here.
This week’s parents’ forum focused on how we can build community. We started with a brief discussion about the role of the class parent and the guidelines for this role were shared. There was some discussion about how to build participation in the parents forum and one suggestion included sharing the topics in advance. A number of participants shared some ideas and so the following dates have been set for the first semester.