F A M I L Y A F T E R N O O N
Family Afternoon and School Visits
'The family afternoon is an important and distinctive element of the Bethany School curriculum. It provides parents with the opportunity to be involved with the education of their own children in a regular and practical way. This valuable educational and valuable family experience is at the core of the ethos of our Christian Family School. The organised programme of activities provides a unique learning experience, which brings together family learning and learning in a wider, mixed, community context.'
- From Bethany School’s commitment form -
All families who come to Bethany School sign the commitment form, to commit to active participation in the family afternoons. The commitment form makes it clear how important they are to the education of our children in the school we have chosen for them. However, as our numbers grow, family afternoons can be hard to organise and can be difficult for families, especially those with pre-school children.
The aim of this page is to help parents to feel inspired about family afternoons and to help families to get the most out of them.
Family afternoons have several overall aims and a number of learning outcomes. Looking at the main aims:
1. Family afternoons as curriculum
Family afternoons are an integral part of Bethany School’s curriculum. They aim to support the school both generally and specifically. Generally by keeping the education of our children in a God-centred and family-centred context, and specifically by providing activities which link in to the nine topics of school curriculum as the children study them each term.
2. Family afternoons as training
The opportunities for training during family afternoons are many. By attending the afternoons, the pre-school siblings of pupils at the school can experience a small part of what being at our school is like. It gives them opportunity to make friends with children of all ages at school, to meet others who will be in their class when they start school and to get to know parents of other children whom they may also later meet as classroom assistants. Regularly being part of the family afternoons will enable parents to give their pre-school children some training in what will be expected of them when they start school: sitting still, listening quietly to whomever is leading the activities, joining in cheerfully, etc.
Ongoing training of school age children is also part of family afternoons. Parents have the opportunity to observe their children taking part in different activities and help their children to improve their skills, not only in completing tasks successfully, but also in their relationships with others.
Parents can also benefit from the training provided by family afternoons. They can learn new skills by joining in with craft, sports, etc or by listening to outside speakers or other parents who share their skills and knowledge with us. Opportunities to organise and/or lead activities are plentiful and time spent on the ‘Wednesday Team’ is valuable, not only in stretching you while you’re on the team, but also it helps you to appreciate and support others who lead activities and to understand the breadth of material covered by the curriculum topics.
3. Family afternoons as team building
Regular attendance on Wednesday afternoons helps parents to feel part of Bethany School. It gives opportunity to get to know staff, other parents and children at the school and increase in understanding of the school curriculum. Some afternoons may be challenging with pre-school children, but keep going. It is so much easier to help one another if we get to know each other and that needs parents to be in school regularly for family afternoons.
There are often opportunities to work in small groups during the afternoons which gives parents chance to meet those with children of different ages. New friendships can be formed and cultivated, and it is often on these afternoons that parents can make arrangements to meet up socially or find opportunities to work together on a job which needs doing in school.
4. Family afternoons as commitment
Attending family afternoons is a demonstration of our commitment both to Bethany School and to our own children. If parents don’t personally attend the afternoons their children can occasionally be looked after by others, but, usually, the children enjoy the opportunity to share the activities with their own parents.
In order for the afternoons to run as smoothly as possible it is necessary to have a good number of parents actively involved. Parents need to make a commitment not only to attend family afternoons, but also to be committed to making them work well and be a positive experience for everyone.
5. Family afternoons as service.
Family afternoons provide many opportunities to serve one another. The afternoons are not run by staff, indeed staff members do not usually attend unless they are also parents of pupils in school (although they may attend whenever they wish, and do participate in all-day trips). A family afternoon team is formed by parents to organise the activities for each term. This requires quite a lot of work, and is a big opportunity to serve others. Those parents who do not feel able to lead in this way can still be of real service. Within the programme of activities there are times when parents not on the family afternoon team may be asked to plan and/or lead an activity for a small group of children or families. Parents also do playground duties on Wednesday lunchtimes, and provide refreshments and supervise breaks during the afternoon.
All parents can serve others by joining in with the activities and drawing alongside those who need help. This may be one of the children or another parent who needs an extra pair of hands as they try to help their pre-school child to participate.
6. Family afternoons as capacity building
As parents and children get involved in family afternoons, the aim is that their knowledge and skills are built up. This is achieved by giving opportunities for involvement, starting on a small scale and progressing. So a parent may be asked, for example, first to lead a craft activity which has been pre-planned, then to plan and lead an activity for a small group of infants. This may be followed by leading a small family group, then one of four teams taking part in an afternoon programme, and so on.
7. Family afternoons as spiritual activity
Families come to Bethany school from a variety of church backgrounds and some with very little or no experience of Christianity. We aim that those who attend our school may ’grow in grace, and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’ and family afternoons are a vital part of this vision. Not all of the family afternoon activities are specifically Bible focussed, but whether we are looking together at a part of the Bible, doing craft or going for a walk, there are always opportunities to build one another up.
Parents are encouraged to have lunch at school on Wednesdays which gives time for conversation, and we hope that during the afternoons Christians in the school are showing what Christianity is about, not only by what we say, but by the way we live our lives and interact with those around us.
8. Family afternoon as responsibility
The Family Afternoon is a family activity. The responsibility for the benefits that children and parents receive from an activity lies with the parents. As well as the responsibility for the care and supervision of their children, parents take responsibility for behaviour and the learning which takes place.
Family Afternoon Responsibilities
Family afternoon team
The team usually comprises about four parents who plan activities for each afternoon. The planning needs to take place in good time to allow time to book outside events and speakers, and so that the programme for each new term is ready to give to families at the end of the preceding term. It is polite and helpful to discuss the programme before publication with the head or members of staff to make sure the activities planned complement the lessons organised by the teaching staff.
If possible, during any one term, family group activities should predominate. A balanced mixture of activities needs to be prepared, comprising: outings, in-school activities, outside speakers, parent-led activities, craft, social, physical, service, teaching, problem-solving, leisure and display activities.
One member of the team will manage a bank account for family afternoon funds. These are made up from levies collected from each family per term. Payments for activities and materials should be made by this team member and receipts and invoices kept. Some activities may be funded from the family afternoon levies, but some activities may incur extra cost. A balance needs to be maintained in this, and parents need to be given notice in good time of any extra money they need to pay. Any family struggling with costs can speak to the team member in charge of finance and come to an arrangement with them.
A member of the team should welcome, introduce and take care of and thank visitors.
Whole day visits are acceptable. These should be arranged after consultation with the teachers and should generally be topic-related. Records of activities undertaken should be kept on file.
Parents should aim to arrive at school by 12 noon on family afternoons, to have their lunch with other parents and staff. This is a valuable part of the afternoon.
There is a rota for parents to staff the playground on Wednesday lunchtimes. This will be published on the family afternoon planner each term. Parents need to note when they are on duty and arrange to swap with another parent if they cannot for any reason be there. Two parents will be on duty each week to supervise play in all of the playgrounds. Please collect a whistle from the staff/parents’ room and be in the playground by 12.15pm. Play ends at 12.45pm when the whistle is blown and returned to the staff/parents’ room.
All parents are responsible for leaving any classrooms used ready for school the next day. Any equipment used or furniture moved should be replaced correctly and tidily.
Whoever is last to leave the building should ensure that the building is locked, either by themselves or by asking at the school office.
Family Afternoons and School Visits
The Family Afternoons are a distinctive feature of our school but are becoming increasingly difficult to organise as our numbers grow. Parents who are ready and prepared to work with their own children, help with others and look for opportunities to assist with organisation, are a real asset to the school. Parents who, on occasions, cannot ‘attend personally’ must inform the Wednesday Team. Forms are available in the office.
Before the Visit
Every effort will be made to give parents adequate notice and full information. Please check with your children.
The children should know, in advance, how they will get home after the visit.
The children should have sensible clothing and adequate food. Small rucksacks are best — no plastic carrier bags or large/glass bottles.
Valuables may only be brought with the parents’ consent and they are the child’s own responsibility. Small amounts of money only are recommended.
The main aims of the visit/activity should be explained. Worksheets should be viewed positively.
Transport and supervision are organised on a family basis i.e. parents transporting and supervising their own children. Parents who are unable to accompany their children should make arrangements for them to be transported and supervised by other parents in private cars. NOTE: From 18th September 2006 all children under the age of 12 will have to use some form of child or booster seat, unless they are more than 4ft 5in tall. Communication between parents to organise and monitor these activities is a good way to build the sense and reality of co-operation and service which is a feature of Bethany School. Parents must check with their motor insurance companies regarding cover for these activities.
During the Visit / Activity
We expect the highest standards of behaviour. We need to maintain a good witness and show a real concern for the safety and well being of others. Toleration levels of acceptable conduct vary within each family but it is essential that collectively, it is the Bethany School code of behaviour that is observed and upheld.
Walking – Smartly, quietly, in twos or small groups, not straggling or racing ahead, listening for instructions or information, observing relevant Country/Highway codes. Adults should directly supervise the younger children and the older children should set a good example.
Listening – Be bright, attentive and alert. Find a position where you can see and hear properly. Always be ready to ask sensible questions.
Working - treat any work seriously and always try your best. Make sure you always have the correct equipment.
If the children become restless or inattentive parents (or their delegated responsible adult) should deal with this discreetly. If this persists or a younger child becomes ‘unstoppable’ then they must be firmly, but kindly removed far away from the rest of the group and dealt with.
After the Visit
Say thank you to those that have organised the visit, provided transport, prepared, taught, and helped — especially if these people are not normally involved with the school. Talk about the visit afterwards and re-enforce positive aspects.