FUN for FRIDAY! #2: Parents-Only Dinner!

| February 5, 2010 | 0 Comments

This week’s fun idea was sent to us by reader Heidi Zarder, coach of the Hamilton High School Synergy Color Guard from Sussex, Wisconsin!  Thank you Heidi for taking the time to share your fun idea with the CGE Community!

Heidi plans a night of fun JUST for the guard parents!  I think this is a FANTASTIC idea!  Here’s what she wrote:

“To get the parents to know one another in order to recognize each another at football games & competitions we host a parents-only dinner. It’s gotten too big for my house therefore one of the parents “hosts”. I bring several lasagna’s, alfredo shells, tiramisu & cheesecake… Part way through the evening the guard captains show up to thank parents for their support (we hand out something for them to wave or shake in the stands and each guard member writes a thank you note to their parents)…We have time for questions & answers with the coach (and band director) and the rest of the evening is spent talking about “the kids”.”

I love this idea for so many reasons…

Parent Power!

First, if you’ve ever worked with a great, cohesive, supportive group of parent volunteers you know that when you have a strong support network everything gets easier.  Yes, you have to do some volunteer management.  But that’s overshadowed by the amount of stress and work the parent crew can take off your plate. Some of the biggest leaps forward in my program over the years came when I had a great group of parents who enjoyed each other’s company and understood they were part of the team.

I’ve had parent volunteers take ideas for props, uniforms or flags and fly with them – making my designs come to life within our limited budget and at a higher quality than I could have purchased or done myself for the same cost.  My volunteer crew hosted competitions and fundraisers, counseled me through challenging decisions while on trips, supported my wacky ideas like, “Okay. This year we’re not only fundraising for our team but also Race for the Cure!”  The guard parents even saved the season the year I was “expecting” and so very, very sick.  Those parents took care of me and the kids making sure everything was going to be alright.

I think if you let your guard parents know their ideas are valuable and appreciated while structuring a climate where they enjoy participating as much as their kids do, your program will benefit leaps and bounds.

Introductions and Approachability

Obviously getting to know the coach is important.  They need to know you are approachable and open to their ideas and discussion.  This will help prevent some of that “talking amongst the crowd” that happens when parents have a concern but don’t know if they can talk to the coach or teacher for fear it might reflect poorly on their child.

The other thing I’ve learned as a parent (my daughters are in kindergarten) is that it can be tough to get to know the other parents in the class.  It’s almost like being thrust back into school myself… being the shy kid (can you believe that??  But seriously… I am)… trying to figure out how to break the ice… wondering who is already friends with whom and whether they might want to be friends with me too. In a winter guard situation it can be even worse because the older parents may know each other so well that the first-year parents can feel like it’s a clique they can’t break into. It’s intimidating!

Heidi, who submitted the idea, is creating an opportunity for the parents to get to know her and one another in a relaxed environment at the beginning of the season.  As a result, they will probably feel more comfortable volunteering, setting up car pools and approaching her first with concerns that arise.

An Example of Gratitude

Having the students write their parents thank you notes is the icing on the cake for me with Heidi’s idea.  It’s something I always do at the end of each season with my own teams.  It’s so easy for kids to forget how much their parents sacrifice so they can do this activity.  In addition, giving them the gift to wave in the stands invites parents to come be a part of each performance cheering on the team, connecting them to the kids on the floor.

Heidi, what a great idea!  Thank you for sharing with all of us!  This idea got me especially excited because my parent volunteers were always so integral to the success of my programs.

If you have a great “FUN” idea for our new Friday column send them our way !  We’d love to hear how you make things fun for your performers and in sharing you can help make things fun for hundreds more students around the world!  Imagine that!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend of rehearsals, competitions, (or…like me… being snowed in here in the mid-atlantic region!).

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Category: For Fun!, Fun for Friday!, Team Management, Teambuilding, Volunteer Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.

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