Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer Time in Warren

Place: ABC Preschool in Warren, AR
Date: Thursday, May 13, 2010 From Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Theme: Summertime in the Country
Icebreaker question: What was one of your favorite summertime activities as a kid?
Question #1: What do you do to reinforce your child’s learning during the summertime when school is out?
Question #2: What tools would like to have that would help you reinforce your child’s learning during the summer?

The ABC Preschool did a fabulous job of hosting the first Community Café in Arkansas! The room was decorated to reflect the theme of Summer Time in the Country. The whole school got involved in designing the room! The tables were decorated with flowers, candles, and checkered tablecloths. Red bandanas were used as napkins and cold glasses of sweet tea were served in mason jars – a true touch of Southern style. The rest of the room was decorated with all sorts of country favorites – a giant cardboard barn (painted especially for the occasion!) tractors, roosters, cowboy boots, wagon wheels, and much, much more. The ABC crew out-did themselves with the decorations! It made all of the parents feel special and welcomed.

Our afternoon started with a special treat from the children. One of the classes sang “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”  Each time they named a new animal in the song, one of the children would pop out of the barn dressed as that animal. It was so adorable and such a creative way to start our program! (And I'll bet the children had a blast playing in that barn after the Community Café was over! )


Next, everyone was served a delicious lunch prepared by the school’s kitchen staff. We had roast pork, potato casserole, green bean bundles wrapped in bacon, and hot homemade yeast rolls that filled the air with their aroma. For dessert, we had the most delicious Italian cream cake you could ever imagine. It was quite a country supper!

After the plates were cleared, we got down to the business of creating conversations. The Community Café concept was explained and the first question was posed to the group.  There were a lot of great conversations and some great ideas were generated!


The Harvest:
The participants had many wonderful ideas of how to continue their child's learning during the summer.   A few of the ideas that were mentioned included:
  • Activity kits provided by the school for parents to use during the summer
  • An assessment of each child's strengths and weaknesses so parents know what to work on over the summer
  • A "Flat Max" project that encouarges kids to take photos of a paperdoll as a way to document their summer activities
  • And MUCH MORE!!
One common theme that emerged was the idea of creating group activities where the kids and their parents could socialize and play with one another.  The group became excited about the idea of hosting a "movie in the park" event that would be open to the whole community.  Before the afternoon was over, the participants identified a possible location, talked about concessions for the event and brain-stormed about some city leaders that could help!  I hope they actually make it happen.

At the end of the afternoon, each parent was given a thank-you gift for participating.  They were also invited to browse through a table full of resource materials and take anything they wanted.

It was a wonderful afternoon full of stimulating conversation and everyone seemed interested in getting together again for more conversations in the future -- conversations that change the lives of children.

Thanks to all the wonderful staff and parents of the
Warren ABC School!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Arkansas Launches Community Cafe Project

The Arkansas Children's Trust Fund, along with the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, have begun a campaign to promote Community Cafes all across the state.

Check out the pages on this blog to learn more!