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Parents learn lesson at Sinclear
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Esther Orozco looks at Catlali Alvarado as she studies a classroom board. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The population of Sinclear Elementary School increased by hundreds on Wednesday as parents tagged along with their students during the third annual "Bring Your Parent to School Day."

Principal Connie Stark said the idea behind the morning was to allow parents and even grandparents to "see what's really going on at school."

"I have had comments of ‘I understand why my kid needs to come to school every day. Teachers are teaching a lot each day,'" said Stark.

There were no dog and pony shows staged for the day for the nearly 700 students, said Stark, as teachers kept the lessons real. The intent was to demonstrate the importance of sending their children to school daily.

Most parents in the 26 classrooms were given worksheets and learned right alongside their kindergartners through sixth-graders. Some parents commented that school is harder than they remembered.

Teacher Nancy Parsons had her first-graders practicing "tricky to spell" words by racing with parents after taking turns rolling dice. They also built words together as well as reading, math and science.

"I've heard, ‘I can't believe we're doing this in first grade,'" said Parsons. "They didn't realize that it's not just play time."

In the fourth grade class of Jodi Bonales, Punam Malhi assisted daughter Sejal in comprehending the story of "Two Tickets to Freedom," the real life escape of Georgia slaves William and Ellen Craft in 1848.

"The story is just amazing," said Malhi. "I didn't know this story before. It's teaching how they had hardships to be free."

Malhi also enjoyed bonding with her daughter for the minus the distractions of household chores.
Stark said her school has the highest attendance of any Ceres school. She thinks her annual event may have something to do with that.

"Sometimes the kid's not feeling so good and decides to keep them home, or decides to go on vacation. We just wanted parents to see what the kids are doing academically and open up the school and make them feel welcome."

Juan Mendoza, Sinclear's administrative assistant, said that parents tend to get more involved in school after sitting in on classes.

Stark feels that parents of the older children were doubly impressed with the volume of work done daily.
"They see what academics really mean at the fourth, fifth and sixth grade, that we are preparing them for junior high and high school. Everything we do is getting them ready for their next step. We even talk to the students that we're serious about getting them to college and it's something that we start today."

Parents of the younger students commented that school has changed since they were in elementary school. Stark said that's because teaching is more focused and intentional. "We're not coloring like we used to. It's definitely a focus on academics. We're trying to give the students the responsibility of standing and speaking. We can all get the basics on our cell phones, through the computer. We need to become a world of thinkers. That's why you'll see them in the classrooms standing and defending their chosen answer. You're starting to see that in kindergarten."