What’s it all about?
Council members have declared May 17 - 24 to be the Week of School Community here in the ACT. It is a chance to demonstrate and celebrate the role that parents and the wider community play in our schools. It is also a great opportunity to get more parents and carers through the doors and engaging in what happens in your school. If nothing else, it is a chance for parents, students and teachers to have fun together!
We are encouraging all P&Cs and their schools to be part of the week by staging an event. Have a look at our ideas below to help you come up with something that will work in your school. Note that the week is not about fundraising, but building community ties.
Council can offer advice and will compile a list of all the school events across the ACT, as well as hosting an ACT-wide event of our own. We will also make sure there is plenty of publicity for everything happening that week to highlight the role we all play in making our schools successful.
Why do it?
Research has shown time and time again that family involvement in school improves student achievement: better grades, attendance, attitude and behaviour. Parents and communities benefit too, feeling connected and together building a safer, stronger community. This is a relationship worth celebrating!
Community events make it easier for parents to become involved, help them to feel like they belong and erode barriers between parents and teachers. Experience has shown that simply socialising builds goodwill between the school and parents, and fosters a greater respect.
This is important because research shows that parents’ attitudes to teachers and schooling have a great influence on their child’s attitudes and hence their success. In small practical ways, it helps teachers too. For example, if a teacher needs to contact a parent about a disagreeable incident, parents are more likely to respond constructively if they have met and chatted to the teacher and share an understanding.
Consider these ideas for great community events:
- a pumpkin painting competition!
- a bake-off
- food/wine/cheese tasting (maybe a local supplier can help)
- a community dinner where everyone brings a plate, or breakfast served by the students
- parents and friends sports carnival
- board-games night, movie or trivia night
- run a competition — perhaps a drawing or photography competition
- host a community bike ride starting and ending at your school
- community scavenger hunt
- break a world record together (see section below)
- plant some trees
- bury a time capsule
- school sing-along or family dance evening
- family science night at the school.
(Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asifali1985/5112711353/
under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)
Feeling daunted? Keep it simple!
There are simple ways to create great events by leveraging off existing programs and community groups. Viv Pearce, Council’s president notes: “In just the public schools around me there are choirs, bands, a circus program, drumming group, and robotics program! And a local parent runs a unicycle club! Just imagine the fun if these activities were extended to the wider school community.”
Things to consider:
Move an event which you regularly run (art show, walk-a-thon, trivia night) to be included in this week.
Extend a fun school activity to parents. If your school has a drumming group, science club or choir which the kids love, chances are that parents will love it too! Children also like to share what they are doing at school with their parents.
- Tap into parent expertise. Perhaps a local parent runs craft classes, or is involved with an orienteering club and could get these events happening on a bigger scale at the school. Many clubs and community groups love the chance to show what they do and recruit new members
- Leverage local community groups. Contact the local martial arts club, dance class or sports group to see if they would like to do a demonstration for the school and get parents involved. Local scout groups, in particular, are a great source of community fun, expertise and equipment. You could contact your local scout troupe to see if leaders there are willing to come and run a fun activity for the community. The P&C could support their efforts with some catering for the masses.
Get the School Communities Week on the agenda of your next P&C meeting and brainstorm ideas for an event which would get your community together and interacting around the school. Once you know what you are doing, please let the Council office know. If you need help, give us a call.
How to break a world record
If your school is keen to try setting a world record, you have two options: choose an existing record to beat, or come up with your own world-record worthy achievement to set a new record. Either way, start your quest at www.guinnessworldrecords.com where you can search existing records for one you think you can beat, or submit an application for a new record.
Our quick search uncovered a few records which your school might find beatable. How about the largest gathering of plush toys (6,540 toys)? Or the most people simultaneously folding t-shirts (302), applying lipstick (1002), whistling (672) or bobbing for apples (357)?
If you are coming up with a brand new record to set, you will need to outline your idea and submit an application to Guinness World Records. The process is free, but it can take up to six weeks to find out if your idea has been accepted (this can be fast-tracked for a fee). Guinness will then send you all the information you need for your attempt. An acceptable record must be: measurable (fastest, longest, heaviest, most); based on a single variable (eg. not the longest fastest item, only the fastest or the longest); verifiable; and, breakable.
Perhaps your school community can muster the most people standing on one leg at once. Even if you can’t, you are bound to have a lot of fun!
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 1, 2014. See other past editions of our quarterly magazine.