Monday, July 13, 2020

Bi-Cultural parent Melissa Steinberg creates a Jackson Pollock-inspired splatter painting during the Early Childhood Back to School Night.(Credit: Alice Andersen)

Back to school night usually involves parents listening and learning about their child’s daily schedule and activities. On Wednesday, September 14th, Bi-Cultural Day School took this one step further as parents in the Early Childhood program listened and learned—and created, crafted and played during its annual back to school event.

Parents in the Pre-K and Kindergarten program donned art smocks, held paintbrushes and meditated on the storytime carpet practicing calming, mindfulness breathing exercises as they got the chance to experience first-hand the different activities that their own children do on a daily basis.

“For our back-to-school night, we really wanted to design a unique experience than the traditional model of sitting in a classroom and just listening to the teacher speak—we wanted to transform our parents into the children themselves for a short time and help visualize themselves in the classroom as active, creative learners,” said Rachel Bahar, Associate Principal, Early Childhood.

Combining literacy with science, parents of Kindergarten students gained insight about their children’s upcoming literacy lessons as they made a substance well-known among teachers and students called oobleck, which gets its name from the well-known Dr. Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Parents combined the green substance with cinnamon, made applesauce and used leaf graphs to sort objects by shape and color as they learned about math lessons connected to the season of Autumn. “These activities were a lot of fun for the parents; they played literacy games and learned about important math kindergarten concepts in a fun and interactive way,” said Kindergarten Teacher Sharon Chimes.

Pre-K head teacher Alice Andersen with the help of assistant teacher Ely Sahar created an art project specific to Pre-K parents discussing the style of the influential American painter, Jackson Pollock, familiar for his abstract method and unique style of splatter painting. Parents sat at the classroom art tables and created their own sample artworks in the style of Pollock as Andersen explained the importance of using primary colors as children discover how certain colors are combined to create other colors. Andersen also led a short mindfulness and meditation session, helping parents practice breathing and relaxation techniques, the same methods that she uses in class with her students.

Parents were receptive and enjoyed the revised back-to-school format. “I am really impressed with how Mrs. Andersen can get my four-year-old to sit and be mindful for a few minutes each day. There is a huge amount of current research indicating how mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, calm down and make more effective decisions when they become upset—and it was interesting to be able to try it myself,” said Dr. Alex Rafailov, a parent of a child in the Pre-K program. “The evening was really creative and a lot of fun for the parents.”

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