“If you want to fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb
Family education programs in the state of Minnesota are quite diverse in size. It speaks to the passion of those who lead and provide this programming that it continues to thrive in both urban and rural areas! Programs range in size from one part-time teacher who does everything for their Family Ed program (and yes, we mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.), up through programs who include multiple full time employees working just as Parent Educators or Child Educators.
In our local programs, our teachers are all part-time, there are no full time ECFE teachers. Through this we’ve learned a few tips and tricks on maximizing our impact and planning by teaming and sharing ideas.
Here are some things that have worked for us, maybe they’ll work for you too:
Parent Ed: gather any other parent educators from your region and pick a book to turn into a book study or series of lessons for parents. Choose a unified approach for lesson creation and divide and conquer the chapters. A couple of our favorites we’ve used this method with are No Drama Discipline by Tina Payne Bryson and Dan Siegel, and How to be a Happier Parent by KJ Dell’Antonio.
Parent Ed: host a “swap night” with any neighboring programs. Each participant can bring a favorite lesson, icebreaker, and more to share with others.
Parent Ed: connect with any area educators to create a parent “make and take.” Together you can create an example for each parent educator to take with them to use in their groups. Consider things like chore jars, family mealtime discussion prompts, menu boards, self care kits, etc.
Child Ed: gather any other local child educators for a unit swap night. Each teacher provides a unit they are comfortable sharing out. Can host monthly, weekly, however desired or develop a rotation list for rotating units evenly among educators.
Child Ed: plan together with other teammates in your district. Divide the weeks up and take turns providing the unit for the week for all programs.
Child Ed: host a “make and take” night for fellow Child Educators. Create circle time activities, visual schedules, whatever is helpful to your programs.
Be bold, reach out to the programs around you to connect! Share ideas, encourage each other. As Paul Wellstone (former MN state legislator) is famous for saying, “We all do better when we all do better.” No scarcity mindset friends, be generous, share your passion.
Are your local districts too far away to connect in person? Use Zoom or Google Meet!
Brand new to your role? Ask if you can shadow a seasoned vet in a neighboring program! It’s so great to see how other programs do things and bring fresh ideas back to your home district.
We'd be remiss not to remind you that there is a tool for you, FULL of ideas for Child Education, Parent Education, and programming tips for your family education programs! Check it out here: https://www.connectingtolearn.com/shop
How does your program find fresh ideas? Does your local district or program ever connect with other districts or programs?