Families are going to be hitting the “pause button” on Family Ties Night in the Kenston Local School District.
The Nov. 6 event is a first at Kenston, although other school districts do it, said Katy McGrath, community relations director. “It is a trend.”
On Family Ties Night, there will be no homework assignments, no athletic practices or games after 4:30 p.m. and no meetings or activities hosted in the district.
Kenston Superintendent Nancy Santilli came up with the idea based on feedback from parents. “Time is very precious for families, and every night there is something going on,” Mrs. McGrath said.
The event is for the entire school district with all grades involved.
It will be up to the families to decide how they want to spend the evening, Mrs. McGrath said.
Mrs. Santilli said the district strives to nurture and build relationships between family and school. Research shows that families spending time together could increase academic success, reduce frequency of substance abuse and strengthen the family bond, she said.
Families are encouraged to spend the evening with a game night, going for a walk at a local park or reading together, the superintendent said.
“This event encourages our families to have a night together. Strengthening the family bonds is extremely important,” she said. She encouraged families to have a meal together, hold a game night or read a book together. The school nutrition services will provide family-friendly, meals, and the school is working with area restaurants to provide special discounts.
“Parents do get busy and students are going in a lot of directions. It’s a way to encourage families to enjoy activities together, to share a family meal and conversation,” Mrs. Santilli said.
Chagrin Falls schools Superintendent Robert Hunt said this is the third year his district will be holding what they call Family First night. “Our families are so busy and we encourage them to slow down and spend the night together,” he said.
On that night, there are no homework assignments and no tests are scheduled for the next day, so students do not have to study for them. They simply focus on family.
“It gives everyone an opportunity to slow down and spend quality time together, Mr. Hunt said. “We get tons of positive feedback from families,” he added.
Kenston PTO Vice President Nicol Thompson of Auburn Township said she likes the idea of Family Ties Night. Parents and children are so busy with after-school activities including sports and clubs, she said. “You have to schedule some family time.”
When growing up, she said, her family came together every night for dinner. “I do that with my family now; however, some families can’t do it,” she said. Some students are too busy on their phones or watching TV, she said.
“And when I talk to kids, their preference is to stay home. They love board games and sitting down at the table,” Mrs. Thompson said of family night.
Teachers say homework is stressful because of the balancing the kids have to do. For some kids it is too much and teachers are trying to reduce some of that homework. “For some kids it is too much,” Mrs. Thompson said.
Her youngest participates in Kenston Community Education classes and her older son is on the Science Olympiad team. “The kids who are in sports are really busy,” she said. Many are going to private coaches and they have very busy schedules.
The Family Ties Night is a good opportunity for the children to open up and talk with their families, Mrs. Thompson said.
Jennifer Moore, executive director of Kenston Community Education said the Nov. 6 Family Ties Night is a tremendous idea. So many parents are “running ragged” with all they have to do with making sure their children are taken to their sports and other activities, she said. “We absolutely have to give kids and parents a break.
“I would love to see it once a month,” she said.
The next Family Ties Night is March 4, according to Mrs. McGrath.