While continuing on my own learning journey and working on a chapter on goal setting, I was reminded of one of my goals that I have ignored. BLOGGING! I remembered that I really enjoyed sharing my experiences and knowledge with others and I need to continue.
I was asked by an organization to put a short write up together for their newsletter for service providers and facilitators ask me all of the time, how do i engage parents? I tell them relax, you can only provide the water, they choose to drink or not. So I have come up with 5 ways to engage for the newsletter, and I am sharing my thoughts with you here :
1. Your workshop needs to be inviting and safe.
- Look at your physical space, is it comfortable? Throw away the rows and tables and sit in circles.
- Always have food. People feel comfortable when they can share eating together. DADS particularly enjoy chatting while eating
- Never ask people to introduce themselves for the first time to a large group. Have them talk in small groups first. This helps to create safety.
- The program should be the same time and day of week. This provides consistency and predictability.
2. Your workshop needs to be participant driven and interactive.
- Involve people doing something with their hands and getting up from their chairs.
- Focus on the children. That is why they are there, don’t make it a personal about them. ‘healthy children, have healthy parents’
- DADS love to make and do things. Keep your workshop interactive that way. It’s easier to talk when you don’t have to look at someone.
- Remember to use a variety of learning style techniques in all that you do – include fun!
3. Your workshops need to be enticing and inspiring.
- Make the topics relevant (participant centred)
- Ask them what they want to know. This allows them to discuss critical issues that affect their own lives.
- Think about: Why are people there? What can you do to help them want to come back?
- The workshop topics should always reflect their needs, not yours.
4. Your workshops need to be flexible.
- Recreational activities are a great way to start. Most dads say this is why they attend group activities. Recreational activities provide the opportunity for exercise and decrease anger/stress in a positive manner.
- Offer programs in the evenings or on the weekends so more parents can attend.
5. Your workshops will be engaging if you do 1 – 4.
- People are motivated and engaged when they feel comfortable and will participate in their own way.
- Remember… you cannot control what people do, think or learn. You can only offer experiences and guide them by leading discussions and having resources/supports available to them. They are in charge of their journey, so you don’t have to be!