Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network
In early 2016, the Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN), a parent advocacy and activism group based in Oakland, first engaged the Center for Childhood Creativity (CCC) to develop content – including curricula and facilitation strategies – for its series of parent workshops. PLAN chose to work with CCC because of the team’s deep expertise both in pedagogy and in the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) content, which is being implemented in all California public schools. Based on parents’ reported needs, we agreed to focus on early math and literacy learning for spring 2016, and NGSS-aligned engineering and technology learning for spring 2017. Because PLAN members are diverse, in terms of race and ethnicity, levels of education, and languages spoken, CCC takes these perspectives into account when developing workshop content.
Before developing any content, we met with the team to understand PLAN and its parent members’ specific needs. For instance, participating parents in 2017 expressed both interest and anxiety around the technology and engineering components of STEM education. These parents were concerned about their children having too much “screen time,” and wanted to understand how to support their children in technology- and engineering-learning outside of school, without having to purchase expensive equipment. They were interested in what research into teaching these subjects to young children has shown, and how to incorporate best-practices from research into everyday interactions with their children. Throughout the process of developing workshop content, we kept these needs in mind and stayed in touch with PLAN representatives though calls and shared documents, reliably incorporating parent feedback and communicating progress.
CCC presented the activities, facilitation techniques, and workshop logistics to PLAN in advance of delivering the finished products. Final workshop content included not only the separate early literacy, math, engineering, and technology curricula and activity instructions, but also everything PLAN needed to implement the workshops: detailed curriculum guides, agendas, handouts, set up instructions, and materials lists. We also provided specific goals for each workshop. For example, the goals of early engineering module included: To expand and define ideas of what engineering looks like in daily life, and for young children; To provide ideas for supporting children’s engineering learning at home and on-the-go; To familiarize parents with simple, low-cost and age-appropriate ways to approach engineering; and To facilitate parents’ making a plan to incorporate time for engineering into family life. PLAN was pleased with the CCC’s ability to translate new NGSS content into fun and easy to implement activities for families.