Family Consultant Program
The Family Consultant component is a unique resource to the Allen Creek community, available at no other preschool in the area, and is provided at no additional cost. Parents, teachers, family consultants and children form a circle of community. The collaboration of each classroom's teachers, family consultants and parents, is part of what makes Allen Creek exceptional among preschools.
“The Parent Group Wednesday night meetings have been invaluable to our family. They have helped
me become a better parent and a better listener, as well as more patient with everyone. I have
received guidance from the Family Consultants that I wouldn't have sought out otherwise. Maybe
even more importantly, the support between parents during the meetings inspires me and reminds
me that my 4 year old isn't the only one going through a certain stage. We draw strength from each
other and learn from each other’s experiences. I am so thankful for this program!”
Family Consultants are volunteers with professions and specialization in child development – psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers – who act as resources to Allen Creek families. Through weekly observations in the classroom, discussions with teachers, in-service meetings, conferences, and twice monthly Parent Group meetings, your family consultants support both teachers and parents in understanding your child’s growth.
What Makes Up the Family Consultant Program?
PARENT GROUP MEETINGS - These meetings take place with all the parents of a particular classroom and their Family Consultants on the first and third Wednesdays of the month (when school is in session) from 8:00-9:15pm.
The Parent Group meetings are an integral part of the Allen Creek program, and at least one parent is expected to participate. In these twice-monthly discussions, parents can talk about all issues concerning parenting and child development and they become a support network for each other.
Allen Creek Family Consultants don’t tell parents the “right way” to do things; rather, they work in Parent Groups to create a space for parents to discover their own values and goals in raising their children. The Family Consultants offer support and expertise in the wide range of normally expected development of the child within the context of his or her family.
Sharing with other parents and drawing on the expertise of Family Consultants, Allen Creek parents develop confidence in their parenting. They learn skills of relating to teachers and advocating for their children that are applicable throughout their children’s school years.
CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS - Family Consultants observe in their assigned classroom at a regular time weekly. These observations help theConsultants to know the children and social dynamics of a class.With this familiarity, the Consultants are able to be active resources for the teachers in making the best use of classroom dynamics and curriculum offerings for social and academic learning.
CLASSROOM WEEKLY TEAM MEETINGS - Family Consultants and teachers meet weekly to discuss topical early childhood development issues relevant to their specific classroom
“My teaching experience at Allen Creek has been greatly enhanced by the valuable information the family consultants share about the inner world of children. Their refreshing and informed perspective has improved my understanding of, and my interactions with children and their parents. As an added bonus their insights have helped me become a better parent to my two teen aged sons.” – Michelle Graves, Allen Creek Teacher since 2002. "The family consultants have enriched my teaching life immeasurably. Their years of experience in child development have informed every aspect of my role. I am inspired, affirmed, guided and encouraged as a teacher and as a human being deeply involved in the creative process. Feedback is generous, immediate and compelling. The in-services both intrigue and educate. Our Friday meetings provide an open forum where the needs of the children and their families take a place of prominence and our voices are all heard and acknowledged. The unique environment at Allen Creek is all that I could wish for as a teacher."
WEEKLY STAFF MEETINGS - All the Family Consultants and Teachers meet weekly as a full staff to discuss together how the classroom offerings are meeting the needs of each group. Focusing on a different group each week, the staff gains perspective on the developmental pathways of change as the children grow and how to make the curriculum responsive to these changes.
WEEKLY IN-SERVICE MEETINGS - Various Family Consultants provide the teachers with a weekly in-service meeting to discuss specific topics of early
childhood development. Allen Creek teachers identify these weekly meetings as a unique learning tool which enables them to bring more sophisticated understandings into the classroom.
FAMILY CONSULTANT DEVELOPMENT MEETINGS - Twice a month, following Parent Group meetings, and three other times throughout the year, the Family Consultants meet as a team. During these meetings, they discuss a range of topics from the latest research on child development to a theme (such as separation) that they follow through the ages of each classroom to engage with feedback from teachers and parents. Family Consultants draw upon the ideas generated in these discussions to helpparents and teachers bring increased insight and understanding to their interactions with children.
PARENT CONFERENCES - Family consultants partner with teachers to prepare feedback for parents during parent conferences twice a year; in addition, at least one Consultant attends the conferences. Additional team meetings with teachers and family consultants can be arranged if parents have any concerns or questions.
CONSULTATIONS - Family consultants are available to parents in their child’s classroom for three or four individual consultations at no cost as needed. They are also available for email or telephone exchanges if parents have specific questions.
“The parent meetings at Allen Creek were an unexpected treasure of our family's experience at
Allen Creek. They offered us the opportunity to step back and reflect on how our children were
developing, and to share the joys and struggles of each new phase of their development with other
parents. Collectively, the four years we spent at Allen Creek parent meetings helped us to approach
our parenting with an intentionality that continues to influence our parenting today. We are grateful
to the family consultants who provided the structure and appropriate insight at these
meetings. Their presence and comments continually strengthened our understanding of our children
both as individuals and as members of a school and the greater community.”
– Karen and Mike Thomas
“We have certainly benefitted from the family consultant program. In addition to the Parent Groups, which offer a wonderful opportunity to connect to other parents and learn from them, the one-on-one time with our family consultant has been really helpful for us. We received invaluable support during a significant transition in our family, and it helped us to insure that we were offering our daughter everything we could to help her with the transition as well.” – Andrea Hill
“It seems like we are always going through some sort of change in our family, whether it be sibling
dynamics, kids learning new skills, growth spurts (mental, physical, or emotional), changing jobs, a
new baby brother on the way, holidays & extended family visits--just to name a few. I'm so glad
I've had the opportunity to bring my issues to the meetings and really feel heard. I find it
important not only to be able to bounce ideas off other parents with kids at similar stages, but also
to receive feedback from the psychoanalytic perspective of the family consultants. One meeting
that stands out was when someone brought up the topic of “helping my kids move towards
independence in self-care (toileting, showering/bathing, dressing, etc.).” All of the parents had been
dealing with this on some level, and the discussion was lively. I gained useful tips from other
parents, and I was able to share some of the things that had been working for us, like buying our
daughter an alarm clock so she could be in charge of waking up in the mornings. The family
consultants went a bit deeper into the subject, saying that the more self-care responsibility the
child takes on, the more willing and motivated they are to take care of their surroundings, such as
cleaning up toys and their room. This has certainly been true with our daughter, and it was very
interesting to understand the correlation since it’s not something I would have put together on my
own. These meetings provide me with a sense of empowerment and a renewed excitement for trying
fresh parenting approaches. And it's a great way to build a deeper connection with the parents of
my child's classmates!”
– Amy McKenna
“I think of the many Wednesday evenings when I felt understood in my struggles as a parent. The things I learned in these Wednesday evenings I brought home to my children. I felt resourceful and compassionate towards them (and towards myself).” – Cathy Weinert