Recently, we hosted a breakfast for our new families who will join our community in the 2017-18 School Year. Everyone had a name tag with the word: “Infant, Toddler or Early Childhood” on it. There were other name tags that said, “Current Parent”. Parents carefully wrote their name above the label that identified them by the group their child would belong to next year.
The quiet hum in the room rose to a glorious symphony of happy voices. Most of the conversations started with a favorite topic – children. Then quickly talk moved onto what people did for work, where they lived, Central Park, where to take swimming lessons, new projects and excitement for the year ahead. We ended the event by having a live performance by three and four year old children singing two songs that included hand motions. This added treat prompted another round of conversation around the song choices, the children who had rhythm and were dancing and the lovely teachers.
We were off to a great start in helping new parents find friends within our Twin Parks Montessori School community.
Many of our new parents are in NYC without family member support. Many have moved from another country and are still learning the nuances of the English language. How do parents make friends in a big city? Making new parent friends (with kids the same age as yours) that you can laugh with, and share your deepest parenting fears with, and just click with, is not an easy task. Let us help you! The most important thing to remember is that no matter how isolated or awkward you feel, there are other parents feeling the same way. You need play dates just as much as your children do. Here are a few easy things to do:
- Our schools are situated near Central Park and Riverside Park. Take a walk with your child in the park.
- Find out where the playgrounds are that are a match for your child’s age and size.
- Bring extra toys or bubbles to play with.
- Watch and see which children your child gravitates towards and strike up a conversation with the child’s parent.
- Ask some questions to learn what you may have in common especially if you live close to one another.
Before you leave mention a time in the future that you can meet for a play date. Find a way to stay connected whether it is a time you plan to be in the park or share contact information.
Play dates are great and can be simple to plan. If you meet in your home, have snacks and water available. Plan an activity the children can do together and make sure the other parent understands that you would like them to stay with their child. A good play date should not last more than 2 hours or be planned during nap time. Keep a positive attitude if there are mishaps or it does not go as perfectly as you imagined. If you joined Twin Parks Montessori Schools’ community, make a deliberate point to attend all classroom “happenings” and parent education events at the school. In September, teachers plan and host a Classroom Orientation. This happens before school starts. This is an opportunity to meet the parents of children in your child’s classroom. It is also a time when teachers share the intricacies of how the classroom functions. This event is not to be missed! A few weeks later the teachers host parents for Curriculum Night – another event to reserve time for. Teachers go into depth about Montessori curriculum, materials and observation of the children. Teachers spend a lot of time preparing for both of this beginning of the year opportunities for you to get to know them and other parents in the classroom. Honor the teachers by attending these events when possible. There are many additional classroom activities and socials throughout the year. Our Parents’ Voice also plans for families to get together informally outside of school hours. You know you already have things in common with the parents in your classroom because you chose the same school and educational method for your children.
The people you meet at your child’s preschool will become friends for the rest of your life. No matter where you move or school your child attends later. You will bond with fellow parents, share triumphs and disappointments, and learn and grow as parents together.