Lunch & Learn Connects Parents, Offers Support

Lunch and Learn Series Connects ECS Parents, Offers Support
Posted on 12/13/2020
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Lunch and Learn graphicHow can parents stay connected and receive support in these difficult times?

“It is definitely difficult not having adults in the school building this year to help build community and connectedness,” said Jen Gillum, counselor at Wyandot Early Childhood School. “The Lunch and Learn Series is helping to bridge that gap.”

Gillum and Creekside counselor Jen Russell originally joined forces to come up with an idea that would help their virtual learning families, but came up with a solution that can benefit all of their parents.

Their Lunch and Learn Series is based on the New York Times bestseller, The Whole-Brain Child. The series is similar to a parent book study, but it doesn’t demand much from parents to participate – they don’t even have to read the book! The book explains the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures, and then offers strategies to deal with day-to-day struggles that will lead to calmer, happier children.

“We both love this book,” said Russell. The counselors don’t lead the sessions as experts; both are part of the community with younger children too. “We don’t even practice before the sessions, we just go and do it, speaking from the heart. Parents love when we share our real-life experiences and see that we are trying to practice the strategies right along with them.”

Once a month, Gillum and Russell hold a 45-minute lunchtime Zoom session that discusses whole-brain strategies like Name It to Tame It, Engage Don’t Enrage and Increasing the Family Fun Factor.

 

The strategies are all about balance between the right and left sides of the brain, balancing the emotions on the right side with the logic and reasoning on the left. “We all need to feel connected with both aspects of our brain and find a middle space, a balanced approach,” said Gillum.

Although the book focuses on K-6 children, the practical strategies apply to any age. Parents don’t have to commit to all eight sessions; they can attend as little or as often as they can.

Each session begins with a ‘check in’ where attendees have a chance to share challenges or successes, and then a skill from the book is discussed. The session ends with a ‘check out’ of things to keep in mind, along with a takeaway to practice over the next month. Takeaways include things like giving yourself permission to ‘tap out’ and take a break when you have had enough. Children can pick up anxiety and stress from their parents, so when parents take care of themselves, it helps the child and the whole family system benefits.

“The book is an easy read, but there is a lot to take in,” said Gillum. “As with any parenting book, practicing is the hard part, especially during these stressful times.” Connecting with other adults in the same situation makes it easier to implement the strategies. Throughout the session, attendees can use Zoom’s chat feature to ask questions and offer suggestions.

“The highlight for me is the supportive community being formed,” said Gillum. “People see it is not ‘just me’ – that we all struggle. That we all get to places in parenting where it gets hard.”

Russell loves how engaged the parents are (everyone even shows their screens on Zoom!).

“My aha moment was when a parent said ‘OMG – I am starting to get it. This is my child. This is me. We have to come and meet in the middle,” said Russell. “I love that everyone is open and willing to share with each other.”

Creekside and Wyandot parents can learn more about the Lunch and Learn Series by clicking here. The next session is set for Jan. 29.