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Natacha and Yolanda are two mothers from the CRA ALTO CIDACOS. They were the responsible for the presentation of Period 3 – Parents´Role. MariMar, another mother, also joined them to complete the activity. How is the CRA? How are parents involve in it? What would they like to do in the school? To find the answers, please, read the whole presentation they made and enjoy it!

First words
First of all, welcome to our region La Rioja and to our beloved Cidacos Valley, in the lower Rioja. We hope you have a wonderful stay with us and that you enjoy your trip.
We, Yolanda and me, are pleased to introduce you to our customs and daily routine here, as parents, and also to represent the rest of the parents of our schools as we are here today on their behalf.
The C.R.A is composed of four rural schools, which are Enciso, Arnedillo (where we are now), Préjano and Herce. These four schools are grouped together and they form the C.R.A, that in Spanish stands for Colegio Rural agrupado. This means that we are four shools working together and that we share an important base:
We are run by the same administrative team, we have the same Headmaster Josean and the same secretary, who is Juan Carlos.
Each school has its own teachers but we share some of them, in subjects such as English, P.E, Music, Religion, etc.
We hold some festivities all together, such as, Constitution Day, The Carnaval Party, Book Day, and The closing party. There are other festivities which are celebrated individually (each school its own).

Arnedillo’s introduction
At Arnedillo’s school we have pre-school (from 3 to 5 years old) and primary school (from 6 to 11 years old).
There are two classrooms, one for the little ones (pre-school and first year of primary) and another one for the rest of the courses of primary.
I am a mother of a 4 year old boy, who is attending to the 2nd stage of pre-school, which in Spain, lasts for 3 years before starting the primary courses.
In my kid’s classroom there are 8 children, my son included. Therefore, there are 4 children of the first stage, one of the second (my son), 2 of the third stage and one of the first course of primary.
In the other classroom, there are 8 children too, from the second course of primary to the last course, which is the sixth.
When the oldest children reach the last course, they must go to Arnedo’s highschool.
Arnedillo’s schedule is a continuous shift, from 9 till 2 in the afternoon. Then they go home for lunch.
They have a break at 11,15 until 12, where they have a snack. We prepare it at home and it is varied, sandwich, a bar of cereals, a yoghurt. Three days per week they receive a piece of fruit promoted by La Rioja’s government.

Advantages of Arnedillo’s school “know how”
From my point of view, there are several advantages:
I find it very interesting that children from different ages and courses go together to the same class, since , it fosters the communication among them and strenghtens what they have already learnt as well as what they are about to learn. It simply, helps them learn and keep on learning. I remember my son went on telling me mum, how much is 2 times 2? and he was only three years old and he had been just half a year at the first stage of kindergarten! This happens because they are exposed to what their peers are studying, not only the little ones but also the oldest ones. I also noticed that my son has learnt to write his name really soon and in a very confident way and this is because one of his classmates, a girl who is one year older, is sitting next to him and is helping him all the time.
At the school they also work by projects, which means that they are promoting the PBL, Project Based Learning. Till now, my son has taken part in two projects, Egipto and Roma and he has been really motivated. Even now, after one year gap, he is able to tell me about the natural riches of Nile river, taking into account that his name is Nilo, which is Nile river in Spanish. I consider this is the most holistic and complete way to learn about a topic.
Regarding the continuous shift, I think it is the best one, since it allows children and parents to organize the rest of the afternoon and evening as they prefer. Children can enjoy more of their free time for playing sports, games, gathering their mates, spending time with their parents, etc…so that they can let settle what they have learnt in the morning.

At Herce’s school we have a primary school ( from 6 to 11 years old ).
There are two classroons, one for littles ones ( from 3 to 5 years old ) but now the teachers use the classroon to teach other subjects like P.E, speech Therapist, natural Sciences, Music, etc. And the other classroom for the children of the courses of primary. There is a computer room and a reading room as well.
I am a mother of a 10 years old girl, who is attending to 5th of primary school.
In my daughter classroon there are 11 children, my daughter included, all of then of primary school. Therefore, there are one child of a 1st year, one of a 4th year, 2 children of 5th year and 7 children of a 6th year of primary school.
Herce’s schedule is a split shift from 9:30 to 1:00 and 3:00 to 4:45 in the afternoon.
They have a break at 11:30 until 12:00, where they play and have a healthy snack.

At the begining, when my daughter was 3 years old, I was skeptical about mix children from diferent ages and courses together in the same class, but little by little I have seeing the results and I realize that this is a very interesting way of learning.
At Herce’s school they also work by projects;
School Course 2016 – 2017:
ETWINNING Project: The black cat and a new one borns.
ERASMUS+ Project“ Through Democracy to Literacy”
History Project: Modern and Contemporary Age.
Biosphere Reserve project in the Alto Cidacos IV – Starry Night
Responsable Education Project ( Fundación Botín ).
Self esteem program
Fruit and vegetable program
Mental health program
European quality certificate
e-twinning 2013, 2014 y 2015
2014 National award e-twinning
e-twinning second best European project 2014
2015 – 2017 ERASMUS+ Program
Every year the CRA Alto Cidacos organizes a study visit to Great Britain.
they always visit a British school and have different activities and exchange with host children.
when they come back, they have many experiences to tell and of course many photographs.

In Herce there are few little children and they go to school to Arnedo, therefore, some parents do not support the school and that’s why the school little by little tends to disappear.
The schedule ( split shift ) does not help neither.

Parents’ association
Parents association, called A.M.P.A, which in Spanish stands for Asociación de madres y padres. There are Ampas in almost all the schools in Spain, since it is the most common way to make decisions in assembly.
In the Ampa, there is a comittee, formed by a president, secretary, treasurer and two chairpersons, chosen freely by vote among the parents of the school. These posts rotate each two years more or less.

Herce Parents’ association
The parents ‘ association ( AMPA ) in Herce, we are 22 parents. In the AMPA there is a comittee, formed by a president, secretary and treasurer, chosen freely by vote among the parents of the school or voluntarily.
We meet several times a year to discuss our needs and organize the festivities that we hold, lottery, share, excursions, etc.
Also we organize an extra school course like computer; and now the children are attending to Study Techniques course.
Finality, I think, that like parents we have to open our minds to a new coming world, full of tecnologies and new experiences. A new way of doing things. We have to encorage our children to paticipate in new projects, working in teams no matter the ages. But, What parents can do? Perhaps, learn to learn with our children?

What we do in the meetings
We meet several times a year to discuss our needs and organize the festivities that we hold.
The opening meeting is crucial since we welcome the new parents and we introduce all the activities to be organized throughout the year.

Chestnut Day, it is the first festivity of the school year and it is related to the Autumn season. Normally, it is held at the beginning of November, where there are plenty of chestnuts in our rural area and we collect them and we grill them outdoors. We do it before our kid’s break so that when they go on their break we can offer them and their teachers a cone of grilled chestnuts. Each village of the C.R.A celebrates this day at their schools. This activity is organized by the A.M.P.A.
Constitution Day, it commemorates the day our current constitution was instituted. We hold this festivity around the 6th of December, when it is officially celebrated. The four schools have a get together in one of our villages, it takes turns, each year in a different one. The host village offers a snack to the guest villages.
Christmas Party, we do it just before the Christmas holiday. Each school does a performance in the main hall of its village, it can be a theatre play, a song, a video, etc…these performances are arranged by the teachers and are showed for parents and neighbours of the village. After the acting, the parents association offers snacks and drinks.
Tree Day, parents, teachers and kids we all go to a green area, near the school, where there is soil and water and we plant several trees. The land choice is arranged with the town hall. All the tree species are marked so that children can learn to tell them apart. It is important that teachers and parents instill in children the necessity of trees to be watered and cared for, not only that day but for the rest of their lives. This activity is held in each village.
Book Day, the C.R.A pays tribute to books, all sorts of them, novels, children stories, comics, classics, etc…and to the pleisure of reading. Children offer their crafts and and in exchange they can get several books. Each child brings one book from home to donate it to the exhibition. The four schools celebrate this day together.
Carnival Party, Children of the four schools disguise and carry out a performance in front of the other schools’ mates. Teachers also disguise and prepare a sketch. Parents are invited to attend and join the party. We share a meal afterwards. Carnaval party is celebrated in one different village each year.
Closing Party, it is time for celebration, after all the dedicated effort by teachers, students and parents throughout the year. The course comes to an end and the beloved summer is around the corner. The weather is beautiful and the children are high-spirited. The host village offers a snack to the rest of the school and we do a gathering outdoors.

How parents get involved in the school activities
What we currently do:
Festivities arrangements, we prepare everything that is needed to carry out the festivities: gifts, snacks, costumes, different sorts of equipment or materials, our time, etc..
Reading club, in Préjano and in Herce parents go to the school to tell stories to children. They choose a passage of a book or a story and they read it in front of the children enunciating as clearly as possible.
Plants workshop, a parent in Arnedillo brings the children to an exploration walk to recognize plants in the area and then prepare a natural balm.
Honey extraction talk, a parent in Herce speaks about the honey extraction, all the details of the process. Samples were offered to the children.
Cooking chocolate figures, pastry chefs from Arnedo show our children how to make chocolate statues.
Traditional games memories, our local elderly people play with our children to reminisce old times

What we would like to do
We would like to take an active part in the school activities, not only what we already do, but also carry on collaborating in different ways. We believe that the coordination between parents and teachers is essential and the main beneficiaries are our children.
Due to our location we have the chance to do many outdoors activities, either run by a teacher or run by a parent. All these activities should have an educational purpose, since we are working together to create a learning environment around our children.
The mutual understanding among parents is key for making these ideas come true. In order to foster this understanding, assembly meetings are to be held regularly. In these assemblies the participation and contribution of the parents is highly appreciated. To reach a truthful communication among the parents we need to be sincere, frank, open minded and respectful.This is not an easy task and we can find some obstacles in our way.
Here we have several premises that could be applied to be in tune with one another:
All the parents have the same rights to express themselves and they must have the same opportunities
All the decisitions should be taken by vote, either show of hands or voting paper.
All the ideas are to be considered, not only the already-known ones but also the new ones.
All the issues to treat must be discussed in the gathering in front of the great majority of the parents and in the arranged place, not with third persons or in other places.
What it has been agreed in the meeting must be respected and applied.
The attendance to the meetings is most recommendable so that all the opinions are taken into account.

Goals to achieve:
To improve the development and communication of our parents’ associations.
To promote the relationship among all the parents of the C.R.A.
To foster environmental activities.
To share life experiences, parents go to school to tell their life experiences as professionals.
Feedback, exchange opinions with the attendees. Questions turn.

A Préjanos’ mother story
Marimar is a Préjano’s mother. His son is Samael and is 9 years old.
Marimar is a woman of the world, she has lived in Barcelona for many years and when she got pregnant, both, her husband and she, decided to come back to Préjano, to their roots. She had to look for a rural modus vivendi, something different from her previous job as a sociologist. Therefore, she reinvented herself and she has become the most special and original cook of our valley and without any doubts, a model to look up to. She manages together with her husband a very interesting blog called “el blog alternativo” and she also runs “la cocina alternativa”, a site where we can find many appealing recipes and amusing cooking video courses. Definitely, a site that deserves a deep browse, you can’t miss it!
She is here today to show what she wonderfully does and that is baking. She loves pastry-making and using natural and organic ingredients. Today’s recipe is Pumpkin sponge cake with cinnamon and nuts. It sounds simply delicious!
Welcome Marimar and thank you for coming.”