Brain Camp Parents Workshop

Award Amount: $169.00
Volunteer(s): Shaylyn Garrett, James Garrett
Locations(s): Salt, Khalida Al-Qurashiya School
Dates(s): May 2011
Participants: 18 female, 1 male

The Brain Camp Parents Workshop was conceived as a response to parents and teachers repeatedly asking me–a young, childless PCV–for advice about how to prepare their children for school and how to support them in their studies.  It was also the natural outgrowth of Brain Camp, a curriculum for teaching critical thinking to Jordanian students.  We wondered how we could teach parents to start promoting critical thinking early and to use the same tools we have been teaching students.


The workshop consisted of three sessions in which parents were taught through Arabic powerpoint slides, then participated in activities and discussions to solidify what they learned.  Day one focused on the attidudinal aspects of learning.  We taught the importance of “mindset,” or a child’s beliefs about their own intelligence, and how parents can choose praise language and at-home activities that improve acheivement motivation in their students.  We challenged parents to re-think the deterministic attitudes that pervade Jordanian culture, and gave them concrete tools for how to teach their children that “you are only as smart as you try.”  Parents went home with simple games and activities that encourage patience and persistence.


Day two was devoted to teaching parents about the physical aspects of the learning process–how the brain works, how challenge promotes brain growth, and how they can foster early brain development in their children.  We talked about nutrition, sleep, drinking water, and limiting television time.  We also helped parents practice methods of homework help that promote challenge and critical thinking rather than simple completion of assignments.  Parents went home with basic templates of how to help their children study through brain-stimulating games and challenges rather than simply repetition and memorization.


Finally, on day three, parents learned about the critical importance of reading in promoting school readiness, critical thinking, and love of learning.  Parents learned about scientific studies showing the effects of non-academic reading on acheivement, and they learned how to select books for their kids, how to set up reading routines, and how to read together in a fun, interactive way.  They watched a video by a Jordanian woman who is promoting reading throughout the kingdom, and listened to a presentation by the school librarian about how their kids can check out books.  Each parent went home with three books in Arabic and English to help them establish a culture of reading in their homes.


Funds were used for the purchase of books, games, and homework help supplies, as well as the production of DVDs containing the workshop slides and lecture material.  Participants included parents and teachers.

The response to the workshop was overwhelmingly positive, with parents eagerly siezing the information and coming back each day with small success stories of how what we taught is working for them.  Parents reported never having learned about the importance of reading, and reported a change in their childrens’ attitudes about books once they introduced the “reading for fun, not for studying” concept at home.  Overall, it was a great and inspiring success!


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