Kindergarten Parents Design, Think and Observe

“As someone who works in tech with designers every day, I was excited and eager to learn how design thinking is being applied at a very early age. It was fascinating to observe the innate ability of children to think, reflect, test and adjust, when provided the right environment for doing so.”
- JK parent Deji Jimoh
Eager to learn more about the design thinking process and the importance of play in the lives of young children, JK and SK parents and their children came to school Tuesday evening for a TIDES-sponsored event. Consultant Sherry Kaufman, Junior Kindergarten teacher Tisha Johnson and Parker parent and long-ime Kindergarten Studio volunteer Erica Chandrasekhar facilitated this gathering, which began with an Italian dinner for families.
After their children departed to enjoy activities in another room, parents learned about the TIDES program, ways to engage in the design thinking process and the ability to recognize the deep and broad learning in children’s play. Facilitators led participants in an exercise to strengthen community through Tom Wujec’s Marshmallow Challenge and reflected on the value of relationships, collaboration and prototyping. Facilitators also shared two short videos of children interacting informally with peers, allowing parents to observe children learning through play.
Johnson introduced “playmapping” as a technique for revealing the complex web of cognitive, social-emotional, fine/gross motor skill learning embedded in play. Parents and teachers then took part in a rich discussion that linked the skills children develop only in play with those they then hone when handling project work.
Chandrasekhar noted, “I’ve been volunteering with Sherry for almost six years, helping her document learning during her small Studio Days. She has done an amazing job of providing opportunities to educate parents on how children learn. Each year she has focused on a general theme for the Studio Days, showing the ways children benefit from learning in groups or the effect of limits on time and materials on learning. But throughout the years, it has grown into a larger theme, encompassing and teaching about Parker’s pedagogy, TIDES and the importance of design thinking.”
Kaufman, Johnson and Chandrasekhar encourage parents to attend the next design thinking event Tuesday, February 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Sheridan Family Café.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.