ParentCamp Tool Kit
ParentCamp Tool Kit
This tool kit is intended to give some general guidance on how to produce a ParentCamp of your own. Click on the links below to find out more.
- What is a ParentCamp?
ParentCamps, designed to bring home and school together, began in 2015, and to date the Department has hosted three.
- How do I plan a ParentCamp?
Gathering support and connecting with parents are important parts of planning.
- What should I do on the day of ParentCamp?
Your main focus will be to ensure attendees can address topics of interest to them and engage with each other.
- What can I do for follow-up?
Concrete plans and activities to address the issues and concerns raised should be the result of your ParentCamp.
Conducting a ParentCamp
- Think about why you want to meet with other parents and caregivers in an informal setting. Do you want to get to know your child's schoolmates' parents in an informal setting? Or do you have a specific issue you'd like others to hear about and address possible solutions.
- Decide whether your meeting will be an introductory session or will address specific concerns. An introductory session will be more of a meet-and-greet and open forum, and may be one general session, while a meeting addressing specific issues could consist of multiple sessions.
- These kinds of meetings may be executed well as ParentCamps. What is a ParentCamp? It is a gathering of parents, guardians, grandparents, and other caregivers to discuss issues or ideas that will lead to a better education experience for children. Intended primarily to benefit elementary school-age children, parents of children in middle school and high school also may find a ParentCamp forum of value for discussing issues of common concern.
- Reach out to school and district leadership, parent groups, community & educational organizations to form a committee and gather support.
- If you're not sure where to start, try starting with your child's teacher. Or see if you can talk to teachers at events, such as back to school night, parent-teacher meetings, or on the playground at dismissal time.
- Try to talk to parents as they drop off kids in the morning.
- Then make an appointment to speak with the principal.
- If you belong to any community organizations, connect with individuals at a meeting or event. Explain to them what a ParentCamp is, and your interest in having a local ParentCamp. Express what your interest is in forming a ParentCamp, creating a more solid network of student support by discussing a topic of concern and identifying ways to address issues raised.
Start With the Basics
- Choose a date, time, and location. The typical ParentCamp takes place in a school and lasts 4 hours with 3 breakout sessions.
- Create a registration (ParentCamps are always FREE) and session suggestion sign-up form.
- Spread the word via social media, traditional media (e.g., fliers, ads in neighborhood, city, or county newspapers or other periodicals), word of mouth by community & faith organizations (translate into various languages as necessary). A flier can include language, such as: "What is a ParentCamp? (See about ParentCamps above).
- See if your child's teacher will distribute your flier to the class at the end of the day for kids to take home.
- Recruit facilitators, those who will moderate the breakout sessions, and language interpreters, as needed. Facilitators' main job is to keep discussion on topic, to end on time, and to ensure that all comments/suggestions are heard and written down.
- Create attendee packets consisting of an agenda [MS Word, 24KB] and any other applicable material. An agenda should include topics for discussion and times, and locations, if there are to be breakout groups.
Check the Details
- Remember to plan for refreshments, whether bottled water, for example, or snacks too. See if the school or an organization can sponsor the refreshments. If not, ask for volunteers to make or bring snacks, and for all to bring their own drinks.
- Recruit volunteers to be greeters, assist with food, and be room monitors. Explain their roles. Greeters will direct those arriving to the room, and answer any basic questions, such as where the restrooms are located. Room monitors help the facilitators. Monitors can oversee sign in, take notes during sessions, and keep track of time, signaling to close out session as 40-minute limit approaches.
- Create directional and sponsorship signage. Plan ahead of time to have the supplies you'll need—primarily markers and easel paper.
- Work with building contact person: Verify the rooms will meet technology needs, if any. If you do a Twitter feed, for example, you'll need a laptop and projector.
- Verify wi-fi capacity in building; request guest login if necessary. If there is no Wi-Fi, find a volunteer willing to use their Internet capability for the meeting.
- Consult the ParentCamp Checklist [PDF, 235KB] to make sure all details are covered.
Before the Meeting
- Arrive at least an hour before the event to help with anything still needing attention: room set up, refreshment arrangement, signage set up, equipment set up, and attendee packet assembly.
- Have greeters at their appointed locations a few minutes before the posted start time.
- Have name tags and markers on registration table, which can be close to the meeting room entry, either in the room or just outside. Indicate that first name only is needed.
Opening Session and Breakout Sessions
- Open the meeting with statements about the purpose of ParentCamp.
- Briefly list attendee guidelines, Guidance may include simple rules of order, such as raising hand to speak. Remind attendees to give sufficient time for speakers, responses, and facilitator note-taking, and be mindful of session time remaining.
- Display a Twitter feed wall & encourage attendees to post and tweet using the #ParentCamp hashtag
- Write topics for discussion on butcher paper. Attendees may choose any topic.
- Have volunteers show attendees where breakout rooms are located.
- Network and have fun!
- Closing Session
- Share individual and share-out session notes with attendees. Decide which issues will be addressed after the meeting, and what strategies should be undertaken.
- Survey attendees afterward for feedback and suggested improvements.
- Read evaluations afterwards for additional suggestions and comments for improvement.
- Get a plan in place before the meeting ends as to what action will be taken to address issues and concerns raised during sessions. Ask for volunteers to help with what is needed to complete the action items.
- Continue the conversation online with ParentCamp participants.
- Connect with anyone who volunteered during the meeting to assist afterwards and review the action item(s) and suggestions made during the meeting for addressing the action items.
- Determine how long you think it will take to complete an action item, and have regularly scheduled check-ins along the way. Record progress made.
- Update all on the status of action item(s). Ask for additional assistance for completion of action items, if needed. Completion could be a definitive end of an activity (e.g., a safety issue at the school is addressed), or setting up an activity to run thereafter (e.g., afterschool reading club).
- Start planning the next event! This will be an opportunity to report out on progress made on action item(s) from the previous meeting and can act as an indicator of progress and reinforce the positive outcome of ParentCamps.