Sinclear Elementary students took their parents to work Wednesday, giving them a window into the workaday world of elementary classrooms on this side of the millennium.
Moms, dads and grandparents watching students power through a typical morning in the Ceres school came away with one key lesson: School is nothing like what they remember.
"It's totally different. I remember reading from books, doing paperwork very little participation," dad René Buenrostro said, sitting next to his first-grader. "It is work, but it doesn't seem like a chore."
"Teaching is changing," mom Ramona Moore said, watching fourth-grade teacher JoDee Bonales asking questions, walking among the desks as she led a lesson.
Another thing: Bonales keeps kids focused without raising her voice. "She doesn't yell or scream," Moore said in amazement as her friend Maria Zavala chuckled.
Zavala said she sees more in-depth instruction. "It's like it opens up their minds. They're thinking outside the box," she said.
Zavala's son Jaiden said he liked having his mom there, watching him study, "so she can be proud of me," he said, barely above whisper.
In the first-grade class of Nancy Parsons, dad Terrance Smith, sitting by his son Mahkai, called the day "a refresher. We forget, as adults, what school's like."
Mom Rocío Tinagero said the teaching is much faster, more organized and interactive than anything she had. Tinagero spoke in Spanish, with fellow mom Jovanna Rosales translating.
Rosales said her own parents never came to class. It just wasn't done back then.
For first-grader Alandra Rosales, the best part of Parents Day was having her mom all to herself, "getting to do everything together," she said.
That's a happy side benefit to the day, said Sinclear Principal Connie Stark, who organized the day as a fresh take on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Parents stay for as long as they can during a condensed school day that lets out at 12:30 p.m., watching lessons just as they would happen any other day.
"The idea is to let them see a day in the life of their child," Stark said.
At last year's inaugural effort, 58 percent of the school's 700 kids had a parent or grandparent present. Teachers were leery of the idea at first, but came around. "They were all for it this year. They saw that parents got it," Stark said.
The principal said her favorite parting comment was from a parent who saw how much was packed into every day. "He said, 'Now I understand why they can't miss a day.' I think (parents) really saw how important it is to come to school every day," she said.
Ceres Unified Superintendent Scott Siegel said the day is a new twist on a longtime district theme, connecting parents to their children's education.
Stark, however, sees the connection as going both ways. Schools need to open up and reach out to parents, too, she said. "We're trying to make it so we're not so separate. We're part of their family and their family's part of us."
e education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339.