Parents See the Difference Caring Adults Make for Their Students
Members of the Vision Step team at Edison Elementary School marched into the cafeteria as they wrapped up their after-school step dance session on a recent afternoon. As the girls waited for their rides to arrive, Codi Scharry and Danielle Bryant, parents of team members, handed out Rice Krispy treats to everyone.
“I bring snacks when my daughter goes to practice for the team that she’s on outside of school,” said Codi, “and I made enough to feed a whole army. So, I figured I’d bring some to share with the girls here too.”
Danielle Bryant is mother to two girls on the step team. She said she helps whenever she can because she appreciates everything the team’s coach, Chelsea McElroy, does for the girls, “She creates a safe space for them to be themselves and make new friends, and they’ve grown from it. They’ve learned leadership skills, they’ve learned how to listen, they’ve learned rhythm, a lot of good stuff came out of this program and I really appreciate it. So, that’s why I’m always there for whatever she needs.”
“I just want parents to know that we are really engaged in meeting students where they are at, asking them how their day went and letting them know they have caring adults here to support them in their learning.”
Tiffany Lemmon, Site Director of Edison Elementary School’s Expanded Learning program, saw the special snack time and recognized the importance of parents like Codi and Danielle connecting with what’s going on in the after–school space. Tiffany also recognized the challenges parents face in getting involved. That’s why she organized family nights for Expanded Learning participants. During these family night events, students take the stage to show their parents what they’ve learned in their various programs.
“For me personally, it’s like a breath of fresh air to have someone who cares for your kids the same way you do.”
Tiffany recalled a recent family night event where she talked with parents about some of the signature practices used in the expanded learning programs, “I wanted to introduce the families to Social Emotional Learning and talk about how we’re incorporating signature practices here because it’s working for our kids and they are really invested in it.”
Tiffany shared about the Zones of Regulation Check-ins that start every after-school program. An adult individually “checks-in” with each student at the beginning of the session to ask how they are feeling. Another practice she described was Community Circles where students share experiences and thoughts about their day. She also talked about Calm Down Corners, complete with bean bag chairs, that provide students the space and time to calm down and refocus when they experience difficult emotions.
After presenting the signature practices to parents, Tiffany invited families to take home a resource packet with details about what students are learning to help with problem solving and working through challenging situations. “I just want parents to know that we are really engaged in meeting students where they are at, asking them how their day went and letting them know they have caring adults here to support them in their learning.” Research shows that when students feel like they belong and are valued by the adults who work with them they engage more fully in learning, have fewer behavior problems, and are more likely to persevere in the face of difficulty.
The Vision Step team members quickly finished their treats, and Danielle helped one of the girls tie her shoe as they lined up to show their parents the new routine they learned that day. Before leaving, Danielle offered her parent perspective on what it means to have Expanded Learning opportunities for her children, “For me personally, it’s like a breath of fresh air to have someone who cares for your kids the same way you do.”