Ceres parents spend a day in kids’ shoes

naustin@modbee.comSeptember 19, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin
    E-mail: naustin@modbee.com

— Sinclear Elementary parents got a lesson in learning in a flipped version of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, with kids guiding the older generation through their math lessons, reading time and pop quizzes.

“We wanted parents to see the academic work their students do – it’s not coloring!” said Principal Connie Stark. “They see the homework, but they don’t see what goes on before, the intensity of the teaching.”

A teacher came up with the idea three years ago. Parents come for a minimum day, with the option of staying for lunch with their child at school day’s end. They sit through classes, hang out at recess and occasionally get put on the spot to answer questions or read aloud, as Adrian Perez did.

“That was a surprise,” Perez said with a grin after getting a “popcorn” call to read over his second-grader’s shoulder during circle read-aloud time. His effort got a “firework” swoop, snap up and sizzle down from animated teacher Chelsea Bustos.

“I always try to keep them moving,” Bustos said of her fun and frequent prompts to keep kids cued in and on track. Parents got a lesson on such everyday code words, met their child’s friends and got to see the flow of the fast-paced school day.

“I just try to keep my day as normal as possible. ... The kids get to show their parents the work they do. They feel very proud about it,” Bustos said.

Mom Maria Mendes said her son’s class is more fun than she remembers her own school days being. “I love it. I miss school,” she said.

“We didn’t have this technology,” said J.J. Campos, sitting in his fourth-grader Devon’s class. In Campos’ day, there were chalkboards, not smart boards.

“Our desks had the inkwells – not the ink or the fountain pens, but the wells were still in the desks. And we had the old reel-to-reel (projectors),” added Justin Bush, sitting at the next desk.

Bush’s daughter Esmee, a fourth-grader in JoDee Bonales’ class, said she liked having her dad around for the day. “It’s really cool,” she said.

Watching granddaughter Laniah McCockran work, Terri Wallace said Bonales’ teaching style was an improvement over what she remembers. “I like the way things are done. She intervenes with students, going around and checking on their work. I like the way she interacts with them,” Wallace said.

Bonales said she runs Parents Day like every other day. “It prepares the parents. They can see how hard fourth grade is now,” she said.

On the playground at recess, Irma Reyes chatted with other Spanish-speaking parents, saying they all liked what they were seeing. “I like everything,” Reyes said.

More than half of Sinclear students speak English as a second language, Stark said. Parents Day brings many of their parents on campus – more dads than moms, she added.

“Parents love it. They tell me, ‘I feel like I’m connecting with my kids.’ That’s exactly why we do this, to make connections,” she said. “Parents are welcome at any time, but it’s another avenue to bring them in.”

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209)578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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