Saturday, February 4, 2012

Starting a Parent Group

     Parenting can sometimes feel like a losing proposition.  Whatever we do, we question ourselves, wonder if we are doing the right things for our children, and our children often tell us that they are the only ones who cannot see a particular movie, listen to particular music, or be at home at a particular time.  Living in a vacuum, not communicating with other parents, can make us feel that we are making a million mistakes.  

     One solution is to join a parents’ group.  If one is not available in your area, then it is easier than you would think to start one.  All you need is a unifying mission, a place to meet, and a willingness to discuss the issues confronting your children or you as parents.  So, how do you go about starting a parent group?
  1. You could go to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) website. Click on Parents and then on Starting a Parent Group.  NAGC will walk you through the steps to start an affiliate parent group.
  2. If you do not want to go through NAGC, you could simply contact your school or community center to obtain a location for meetings.  Decide how frequently you would like your group to meet, the day of the week, and time, and secure your location for those times.
  3. Create a flyer that provides the purpose for your group, the meeting information, and topics to be discussed.  Often, a parent group is more successful if you decide on a particular topic to be the focus for each meeting, and then branch out from there into other areas of concern.  Asking someone from the community who is knowledgeable about your focus topic to attend often helps your meeting to stay on task.
  4. At your first meeting, you could poll the attendees as to what they would find useful, the direction they would like to see the group head, and any ideas they may have.
  5. Keep your meetings short (1-2 hours) because parents with young children usually do not have a lot of free time.  
  6. When the designated time for the end of the meeting arrives, announce that the formal meeting is over and allow anyone who needs to leave to do so without feeling as though he or she is leaving early.  If you wish, you could continue the meeting informally after that time for anyone who wishes to continue to chat.
  7. Asking attendees to sign up to lead future meetings often is a way to distribute the work.  Whoever is to lead a meeting may select the topic to be discussed that day, secure a speaker, and/or lead the discussion.
  8. If you wish to have refreshments at your meetings, you could send around a sign-up sheet so that no one person is responsible for providing all of the refreshments.
  9. If you prefer, you could meet at a local coffee shop or restaurant.  In that case, no one would need to bring refreshments since attendees could purchase whatever they want.
  10. Have fun!  Organizing a parent group does not have to be a lot of work.  The benefits, however, are enlightening. 

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