3 Parent Workshops to Improve Parental Involvement -Reading, Rhyming and Giving Up the Dummy

Giving Up The Dummy
Click on the book ‘Give Up Your Dummy Matilda’ to purchase

Parent Workshops

At the beginning of last year, I ran a series of parent workshops for our nursery parents to attend, with the help of Stoke Speaks Out – an initiative to support children’s speech and language development in Stoke-on-Trent. The aim of the parent workshops were to:

  • Share information about our school practice.
  • Share ideas for activities that can be done at home.
  • Help children with giving up the dummy.
  • Develop a stronger partnership between home and school.
  • Increase children’s progress in the area of communication and reading.
  • Support parents in completing a shared activity with their child, linked to the theme of the workshop.

Parent Workshops – Reading

In this workshop, I share a PowerPoint to deliver a whole range of information. I use a range of activities from the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document and our synthetic phonics programme, Read, Write, Inc. when teaching the children the foundations of reading in school depending on their particular ability, and therefore make reference to this throughout the parent workshop.

In each of the parent workshops I created a resource for the parents to take away so that they could continue to use the activities in the home environment. The bookmark above was shared during the parent workshop on reading.

For more information on early reading along with a free pre-reading skills activity pack that you could share with your parents visit my blog on pre-reading skills. There is also a free booklet which outlines young children’s progression in phonics and assesses their ability according to a number of different activities, which would also be great to share with your parents. More free phase 1 activities can be found here along with some interactive games.

Each week, I also invited the children into the parent workshops half way through the session. This particular week, they sat with their parents while I shared a story with them about a dragon. For the child and parent activity I provided a range or resources for them to make their own dragon to take home, along with some dragon colouring pictures for the early finishers.

Parent Workshops – Song and Rhyme

This workshop is all about using songs and rhyme to develop children’s communication skills.

I provided the parents with the rhyming cards above so that they could go home and make a rhyme bag. The cards have a picture on one side and the rhyme on the other. Children can choose a card from the bag and join in singing the nursery rhyme. If you are looking for number rhymes, I have those too!

The children joined us part way through the session to sing songs and play musical instruments. They then went on to make a ‘Humpty Dumpty’ picture with their parents or grandparents.

Parent Workshops – Giving up the Dummy Workshop – ‘Give Up Your Dummy Matilda’

Out of all of the parent workshops that I deliver, this one has to be my favourite, as a result of the magic that happens. When it came to the week on dummy’s I wanted the children to leave on board with the idea of giving up the dummy. I know how much children love their dummies and knew this wouldn’t be easy unless I created something really special. I set about creating ‘Monkey Trouble’, a book about a monkey called Matilda who also loved her dummy.

Parent Workshops
Matilda Monkey and my home made ‘Monkey Trouble’ book

Matilda was not happy about giving up the dummy until her new baby brother arrives and needs it far more than she does. However, she is very worried about what will happen if he loses it as she couldn’t possibly put up with all of that crying again. She asks the children if they could help. Do they have any dummies that they could send to her? At this point, the children went off to decorate an envelope to put their dummies into, very much on board with the idea of giving up the dummy.

A decorated envelope to post the dummies to Matilda monkey from Monkey Trouble by Alison Flanagan
An example envelope

Once they had made their envelopes they chose a colouring picture to colour in.

Unfortunately, we only had two children attend but they both completely bought into the story. The parents both left saying that it had given them the confidence to take the dummies but not until the approaching half term, just in case the experience was stressful.

However, both children had other ideas. Each of them insisted on putting their dummies in the envelope that they had decorated and taken home. That night, both children gave up their dummies for good! I had an email the next day thanking me for the workshop and the story that had caught the children’s imagination. I felt that it was only right that they got a thank you card from Matilda, and because there were only two of them a gift of a cuddly monkey as well. As you can imagine, the children were delighted.

Spurred on by the success of the book I then went on to write more pages and introduced a character called Ben who joins in with giving up the dummy and illustrates the journey that the dummies go on once the envelope is posted.

Ben from Monkey Trouble by Alison Flanagan posting his dummies to Matilda monkey
Ben giving up the dummy and posting it to Matilda

Once it was complete, I self published it and it became ‘Give Up Your Dummy Matilda’.

If you would like to read more about dummies and how they impact on a child’s development then read my blog – ‘Dummies and Communication‘. It’s always very useful to share important information in your parent workshops to make them as useful and informative as possible.

Using ‘Give Up Your Dummy Matilda’ to support children in giving up their dummy

If you don’t have the capacity to do parent workshops, you could send a letter to parents explaining the activity and find out which parents would like their children to be involved and to bring a decorated envelope home from school. Alternatively, you could loan ‘Give Up Your Dummy Matilda’ along with this parent sheet and encourage the children to give up this way.

Parent sheet to support their child in giving up the dummy using the Monkey Trouble book

Although I did the activity with nursery children it would work just as well with those reception children who still have a dummy. If you are not sure which of your children have dummies you could either ask the parents or read the story – you’ll be surprised at how many children can relate to Matilda and are more willing to own up to having a dummy!

If you would like to own or gift someone the ‘Give Up Your Dummy Matilda’ gift pack then please visit my shop.

Good luck delivering your parent workshops and if I can be of further help, please get in touch.