Juggling parenting responsibilities while earning a graduate degree? That’s a challenging journey, which is why as part of ongoing efforts to support student parents, the Office of Graduate Student Life and Development (GSLD) welcomed more than 60 to the College’s first Family Day on Oct. 22.
“Supporting child development in innovative, engaging ways is a core part of what so many of our students and faculty do at TC, so to share that with children within our community is particularly meaningful,” explains Tom Rock, Vice Provost for Student Affairs. “Graduate school shifts the family experience, and supporting our student-parents through this kind of programming is a key component of fostering their growth at TC and beyond.”
After kicking off the festivities with brunch, families could participate in numerous activities including educational gaming sessions, cooking classes, mindfulness activities, sign language learning and more. Activities were led by student volunteers as well as experts from labs across the College.
“The excitement from kids in our community, as well as their parents and caregivers, brought campus to life on what would typically be a pretty quiet Saturday in the halls of TC,” said Denise Boneta, Executive Director of Graduate Student Life & Development. “We’re looking forward to continuing to build opportunities for families to take advantage of what Teachers College has to offer together.”
Students can find resources to support parents and caregivers through GSLD — spearheaded by the department’s relatively new Student-Parent Coordinator, Shirley Altamira, funded by the generosity of Board of Trustee member Carole Sleeper (M.A. ’05). “We’re so grateful to Carole for her critical support of resources for student-parents, whose work often aims to build a better world not only for their children, but everyone’s,” says Rock, noting that the role just celebrated one year at TC. “Parenthood can enrich scholarship, and it shouldn’t be a barrier to pursuing graduate education.”
Families also can find community in the Student-Parent Group, led by and for students. “There is solidarity in knowing that there are other parents in similar situations,” says Elena Peeples, an Anthropology & Education doctoral candidate and mother of a six-year-old. “It provides a space to work through questions of structural and institutional barriers so we’re not just troubleshooting our own experiences, but finding ways to address larger questions together.”
See more from TC’s Family Day below — planned by Alana Crosby, Associate Director of GSLD, and Altamira — and learn more about resources for student-parents here.
Kids interested in video games embarked on hands-on play and a corresponding arts project: painting characters from the digital realm.
Engaging in tactical activities together, families had opportunities to embark on play-based learning activities featuring blocks and art supplies.
In the Smith Learning Center, play went to the next-level with major block play and virtual reality gaming (offered by the Digital Futures Institute).
Kids also had the opportunity to participate in mindfulness activities (like meditation and sound-bath experiences) led by the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at TC.
Interested in staying up-to-date on activities for parents, caregivers and families? Join the Student-Parent Group by emailing StudentParentGroup@tc.columbia.edu.