Family Play Beyond K: What Would You Suggest?

Last year, we had a very successful Family Art Afternoon, where we invited parents in to engage in art experiences with their children. We loved watching parents play with their kids, and we knew that we wanted to create a similar experience this year. We decided to make this experience even more open this year, and just focus on “play.” With Family Day coming up on Monday, we invited parents, grandparents, and younger siblings to come to our Family Play Afternoon yesterday. Twenty-six of twenty-eight families attended, and we had everyone from parents to grandparents to brothers, sisters, and babies playing together from 1:50-3:25. Our family community was so inclusive, and ensured that even those couple of kids without family members there, were part of the collaborative play experiences. Standing back and watching this play made my heart explode with happiness. The photographs and videos don’t come close to doing it justice!

During our Family Play Afternoon, one mom, who also happens to be a teacher in another school board, asked me if this is something that she could do with her Grade 6/7 class. Absolutely! This got me thinking about the possibility of creating some STEM or STEAM Challenges for parents and children to complete together.

  • Teach them both the scientific vocabulary.
  • Work through the problem solving process as a family group.
  • Model how literacy and math skills can be reinforced and further supported through different content areas.

I think of all of the times that we invite families into the school to watch assemblies, see award presentations, or attend holiday concerts. 

  • What if we got them more involved in the learning process though?
  • How might we do this in different grades?
  • What if parents that couldn’t attend were able to Skype or FaceTime into the classroom to participate from afar? 

I wonder how these kinds of family experiences might help impact on both a child’s and a parent’s perception of school. Could this be another way to move from parent involvement to parent engagementI believe so, but what about you?


4 thoughts on “Family Play Beyond K: What Would You Suggest?

  1. Hello Aviva,
    ‘Could this be another way to move from parent involvement to parent engagement?’ I completely agree. I am working towards doing a parent engagement early literacy event for my K’s and 1’s. It is more on the lines of ‘Snuggle Up and Read’ in the Library, hopefully in collaboration with the Settlement worker, TPL and Speech-Language Pathologist. I hope to introduce dual-lang Read-Alouds to our parents. I would love to incorporate your ideas into the session.
    ‘We provided with questions that extend the learning at home and support their learning in the classroom’…can you share some details/examples about this..?Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment, Salma! I love the sound of this Family Literacy Event, and how multiple community agencies and support staff are working together to make this happen. This makes me wonder about the value of including speech pathologists, consultants, and resource teachers in even our classroom family experiences.

      Here’s a copy of the handout we shared. It’s complex, but gives background information that many of our families appreciate. Hope there’s something here that would be useful for you. Would love to hear what you do.


  2. I just loved looking at these photos, Aviva! They show so much engagement and learning with families. Our classroom is open every Friday so families can come in and engage in activities with their children. Many of them spend time with other children. I feel that families could play an even bigger role in school if we reimagined what schools could be like for children. There are parent volunteers in daycares. I wonder if parent volunteers would work in kindergarten on a daily basis. I feel like what happens in school needs to be more transparent. Thoughts?

    • Thanks for your comment, Cathy! I’d love to hear more about your classroom family time. We’ve had parent volunteers in the past, but often they come for a specific job (e.g., reading books with children). I think it would be great if they could just come and play with the children. Maybe this would also help change a perspective on volunteers. We have a retired teacher who comes once a week to volunteer in the afternoon. She always brings a bag of some of her favourite books from home, and while she tends to sit down and read with the kids, she also engages in art activities, and does some beading with kids. She’s even made some plasticine sculptures with them before. I love how she just plays with them. I think there’s something to be said for this.


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