But Knapp Elementary in Lansdale, Penn., and its Home & School Association are taking it to a whole new level.
This Saturday, April 27, the school is hosting its first ParentCamp, a full-day event with more than 20 discussion sessions for parents and teachers. The day is billed as an “unconference’’ by school principal Joe Mazza because the idea is to encourage parents to talk and engage, rather than to provide a series of lectures to them.
Attendees can choose from a variety of sessions that cover such topics as transitioning to middle school, becoming a connected parent, understanding Internet safety, using Twitter and other technologies, and identifying substance abuse. Parents and teachers from Knapp as well as other school districts will run the sessions.
The Home & School Association believes this event will get resources out to parents who want to partner with teachers and staff on behalf of the kids. "Parents want the best for their children and want to help, but don't always know how, where to begin, or what questions to ask," said Gwen Pescatore, president of the parent group.
Mazza says his own experience at an educators conference called Edcamp last summer sparked the idea for ParentCamp, and the Knapp parent group “worked hand in hand’’ with him to put the event together. The Edcamp Foundation is a national group that provides a model for Edcamps for “participant-driven professional development.”
“This is in its infancy,” Mazza says of the upcoming ParentCamp. “We are hoping other schools can look at this as a way to engage parents and teachers.”
ParentCamp is open to Knapp Elementary parents as well as parents from surrounding districts. The event is free and so far 125 people have registered, leaving open seats for 75 more.
Also, if parent leaders are interested in learning more about the event, Mazza and others will be tweeting throughout Saturday with the hashtag #parentcamp.