Hosting a school-wide event or family night is an important way for staff, students and the community to connect. Whether you center the event around curriculum, celebrating different cultures, or a fun night out, it gives families the opportunity to take part in their child’s learning and what’s happening at the school.
Here are some ideas and tips for hosting your own event from some proud members of the Participate Learning Partnership!
Multicultural night at Gray’s Creek Elementary
Each year, Gray’s Creek Elementary in Fayetteville, NC, hosts a multicultural night for parents and families. Each grade level focuses on a region of the world all year long, infusing cultural aspects into daily learning.
The school brings that cultural knowledge to families and the community through the multicultural night. Each year, a different grade level team “hosts” the main event in the school’s gym. There is food to sample, games and presentations about different cultures put on by the students.
This way students get to learn about other cultures outside their grade level, and parents get to see what their children are studying.
Other cultural events
Tap into teacher expertise to do a cultural event with students and families. Teachers may want to share unique food, traditions, clothing, or other aspects of their culture. If you host teachers from other countries, this could be a great opportunity for them to share!
As teachers embed global themes into their practice, student work can be displayed for parents and families during the event.
Martin Hughes, an ambassador teacher at Western Union Elementary originally from Scotland, organized a “Scotland Day” for his students to learn about the culture and traditions of the country:
“Students created fabulous artwork, inspired by the landscapes and famous artists of Scotland. One class constructed Loch Ness Monster origami pieces, another produced tartan (plaid) designs. I also taught students about artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose architecture can be seen around the world. Students even designed an Art Deco rose in the MacKintosh style! The work was displayed at the school’s global festival in March. Students learned about the culture and traditions of Scotland, while also making their standard-based learning engaging and fun.”
Family picnics and potlucks
Every year W.H. Owen Elementary hosts a family picnic out on the front lawn of the school. People bring blankets, chairs and food to share. There’s a DJ playing music from various cultures, reflecting the diversity of students and staff.
This is a long-standing tradition for the school, but administrators have recently added some elements to the event, like the cultural music, to make it more engaging for students and families.
Just like W.H. Owen, you don’t have to come up with an entirely new event – build on what’s already happening and think of creative ways to expand on it!
Whatever event you decide to do at your school, these tips can help ensure success for everyone involved:
1. Make sure every family can participate.
Consider families that may not speak English as their first language, families that may not have access to transportation, etc. when planning. Ensure they can be involved by asking for their ideas and input.
2. Tap into expertise.
Utilize community resources to provide food, to teach participants a new skill, run craft tables, or anything else you need help with! Reach out to local businesses or organizations.
3. Have a main point of contact.
Ask a group of teachers or staff to lead the planning and execution for the event and assign clear responsibilities. Like Gray’s Creek Elementary, you can ask grade level teams to take turns planning each year.
4. Spread the word.
Tell the community about your event in a variety of ways! Flyers translated into different languages, emails to parents, morning announcements and social media are just some of the ways to spread the word. Using a variety of methods will make sure more people know about the event and get involved!