Parent Events at the Bing Institute

By Andrea Hart, Teacher

The Bing Institute increased its programs for parents in its second year, 2011-2012. As part of its mission to foster a community dedicated to improving the lives of young children and their families, the institute offered a variety of events for parents: Coffee Talks, Study Groups and Parent Seminars.

Parent Coffee Talks are guided small-group discussions with an average of 18 parents taking part. These one-hour talks take place in both autumn and spring quarters during the morning and afternoon. They cover a variety of topics of interest as suggested by parents and teachers. Our six different Coffee Talk topics this year included:

• How Can You Support Your Child’s Adjustment to a New School Year?

• How Can You Help Your Child to Make a Friend?

• Food: Friend or Foe? Allergies and Young Children.

• What is the Role of Technology in the Lives of Young Children?

• Small Talk, Big Ideas: How do Speech and Language Develop?

• What is the Power of the Picture Book? Mirrors, Models and Mysteries.

With the exception of the talk on allergies, which was led by Stanford’s chief pediatric food allergist, these talks were led by teachers, parents of a currently enrolled child, or in one case, a grandparent. What an amazing community of professionals we have to draw from across our own community at Bing! From these events, attending parents have learned new strategies to support many facets of their child’s growth and development.

A second and new kind of parent event this year came in the form of our Parent Study Groups. Two study groups of 30 parents met once a week for seven consecutive weeks throughout the winter quarter. Each of these groups read Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky chapter by chapter and explored each topic in greater depth in small and large groups. Parents could talk about their experiences with their own children’s development and learning, and explore together how to best support growth. In addition, these groups each got to know one another over this seven-week span of time. After much positive feedback, we will continue study groups next year.

The institute has offered two evening Parent Seminars this year. In addition to “How to Talk with Children,” a staple topic offered at Bing Nursery School for many years, the institute offered a new topic: “Block Building: Constructing Skills for the 21st Century,” which has been a popular workshop shared with educators in past years. Both of these parent seminars were well attended and well received.

These three different types of parent events, whether small or large, informal or more formal, have led to deeper thought and connection with members of the parent community at Bing. It is our hope to continue to support the institute’s mission by offering events to improve the lives of children and their families. Please watch for next year’s parent events offered through the institute and join us at a seminar, coffee talk, or study group!