It’s pajama night at Collins Elementary School in Dania Beach, a night to promote literacy, to encourage parents to read to their kids and a night to encourage parents to use crock pots. Really, crock pots!
“What we’re trying to do tonight is get parents to understand that it does not take a lot of time or a lot of money to make a healthy meal for your kids,” said Wanda Robinson, speaking to a cafeteria filled with parents and children.
The crock pot idea, providing recipes and samples of dishes like cowboy casserole and turkey chili, is Robinson’s brain child.
Robinson works for the Broward County School District, trying to get lower income parents more involved with all aspects of their kids’ education, including choosing good, healthy nutrition over fast food.
“Sometimes it’s easy to go out and get a fast food meal, but if you use a crock pot, you put it on before you go to work, come home and the food is ready, nothing is faster than that,” Robinson said.
Sponsored by Memorial Hospital and the United Way, Robinson raffled off crock pots and the ingredients to use in them. She plans on holding many more of these crock pot demonstration events for parents, and showing school officials how to do it themselves.
“This is the future of parent engagement, a way that we can really engage parents in the whole child,” she said.
A total of 96% of the students at Collins are on free or reduced lunch. The principal, who was dressed in his own pajamas at the event, loves the concept of combining reading with cooking.
“Aything that we can do to encourage children’s reading, to encourage parents to read to them, to encourage parents to participate in their child’s learning, is a plus for us,” said Lincoln Pasteur, Collins Elementary principal.
Parent David Caceres, who won a crock pot in the raffle, says he reads to his kids every night.
“The more you read or the more they see you’re into something, the more they want to be just like you,” Ccaceres said.
Robinson says studies show families that regularly eat dinner together have children who do better in school. And that’s no crock.
“it all intertwines, and we just hope parents leave here tonight with a lot of information, and really excited about supporting their children,” she said.
Those just might be the ingredients for healthy performance in school.