• Parent-to-parent support through the
sharing of stories (written, oral, audio,
video, art-based, etc.)
• Individual projects?
• Group projects?
• Projects to take out into the community?
• All of the above?
• Times, dates, places....
• Number and length of
• Course location: amenities:
• Costs: parent-paid, agency-
the ground rules
• Ask group participants to help you to come up
with a set of ground rules for the group so
that everyone feels safe and secure
participating in the parenting wordshop.
• The group's rules should reflect the agency's
values: respect, inclusion, confidentiality,
• Participants should be prepared in advance
for the fact that writing (like art) taps into the
unconscious, which can cause both joyous
and painful memories/insights to be revealed.
• Sharing should be optional. Writing is
personal and participants should be allowed
to share as much or as little of their work as
• Be prepared to modify writing projects based
on the participant’s literacy level, language
fluency/first language, cultural norms,
financial needs, and other special needs.
• There's an art to providing feedback on
another person's work—just as there's an art
to providing feedback on another person's
• Everyone's writing and life experience are
• Imperfection isn't just expected; it's
celebrated. This applies to art and life.
creativity like the
chance to fall flat
on one's face.”
- James D. Finley
"Where there is
perfection there is no
story to tell.”
- Ben Okri
the write stuff
• Materials/writing prompt suggestions could be
supplied by group leader, but participants should
always be free to write about anything they feel
inspired to write about).
• Personal items can be brought in by parents (a photo
or a meaningful object).
• Photo/object as
inspiration. What is the
story behind this photo
or object? The story will
be shaped by where
you decide to start and
end the story. The
same photo could
suggest different stories
depending on how you
decide to shape your
• Ideas could be
brainstormed by the
• Participants can be
encouraged to think of a
would like to write about
in a particular class.
"Think small. Don't rummage around in your past
-- or your family's past -- to find episodes that you
think are "important" enough to be worthy of
including in your memoir. Look for small self-
contained incidents that are still vivid in your
If you still remember them it's because they
contain a universal truth that your readers will
recognize from their own life."
- William Zinsser
poetry and word art
• Discuss poems about parenting.
• Create a parenting word/image collage.
• Write a six-word memoir (the brainchild of
Smith Magazine) to describe a particular
• Use magnetic poetry kits or create word
art using a white board and erasable
• Use a digital camera or a cellphone camera
to create electronic word art.
• Use any other sources of words and letters
you can think of: word beads, Scrabble tiles,
alphabet blocks, flashcards, printed materials.
Poetry podcast on parenthood (see link
• Encourage parents to write real-life accounts
of what it means to be a parent in your
community. Photography and audio/video
clips can be valuable add-ons. Can your
agency provide "lender" equipment to parents
who don't have access to this equipment
themselves? Could a sponsor provide it to
• Post these stories in your blog/'zine; or publish a
small-run print publication or 'zine (free or available
for a nominal charge: bulk distribution to selected
outlets works best).
Citizen journalism, also known as "participatory
journalism," is the act of citizens "playing an
active role in the process of collecting, reporting,
analyzing and disseminating news and
"Write what you know, what you
think and what makes you
'Think narrow…. Memoir isn’t
the summary of life; it’s a
window into a life, very much
like a photograph in its
• Bring in details whenever possible. 'Summon back the men and
women and children who notably crossed your life. What was it
that made them memorable—what turn of mind, what crazy
habits?' (Zinsser, 145)
• Remember that people are hoping you are the most interesting
character in the book.
• 37% of bloggers blog to
with others (The
Guardian, July 23,
• Blogging is no longer a
"mom thing." Active
community of "daddy
• Blogging communities, both free and fee-based
accounts (e.g. blogger.com, typepad.com,
• Social networking communities that feature built-in
blogs (e.g. vox.com)
• Tools that integrate with blogs: Flickr.com (photos),
YouTube.com (video) and other related tools. (See
• Encourage participants to start a writers' journal:
ideas, images, inspirations, memories.
• Provide an inexpensive notebook as well as access
to low-budget art materials for parents who want to
take a multi-media approach to their writing projects.
"A journal is a place to explore. Remember that little
spark of inspiration you had in the shower, or that
tasty concept that popped into your head while
commuting to work? Write it down, quickly. Then go
back later and flesh it out, explore it, savour it and --if
necessary -- spit it out or swallow it. We all have
problems we face that seem hopeless and without
direction, and we need a place to consider our
actions. We all have a million half-baked ideas that
might lead to opportunity, but we need a place to play
with them. Yes, you know the place: take out your
pen and start scribbling."
– D*I*Y Planner: An Introduction to Journal Writing
scrapbooking and collage
• Online scrapbooking communities offer free digital
scrapbooking tools (see Scrapo.com, Scrapblog.com)
• Paper scrapbooking can be done inexpensively using
Vintage and thrift stores: game pieces, decks of
cards, classic children's books, classic children's
toys, old photos/slides, old buttons, vintage sheet
music, fabric scraps (particularly those with a retro
Wallpaper stores: wallpaper seconds and ends of
Fabric stores: fabric ends of lines
Recycling depot: cardstock and cardboard remnants,
Dollar stores, discount stationery/craft supply stores:
school notebooks, notebooks, binder paper, tissue
paper, glue, paint, etc.
• Copies of photographs (scanned, photocopied):
classic childhood images, retro, vintage, modern. (Be
conscious of copyright issues.)
• Flickr.com can be a terrific source of royalty-free
• Unicamultimedia.com/p1/stock.html provides links to
other sources of public domain or low-cost royalty-
Other types of writing to talk about
• Letter-writing (including emails and group emails) as
a form of parent-to-parent communication.
• The parenting memoir ("momoir" is the mom memoir)
• Short stories and novels about parenting
• Radio plays, theatre, etc.
Note: The Association for Research in Mothering is an
excellent source of information about
books/resources related to motherhood.
100 Benefits of Journaling www.appleseeds.org/100_Journaling.htm
fd's flickr toys http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/
Found Elements www.foundelements.com
Image Chef www.imagechef.com
NPR: On Memoir, Truth, and 'Writing Well'
Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org
Poetry Foundation.org Poetry Podcast: She's Awake!?!