On April 11, Forrestdale School held its annual Fishbowl event, organized and led by Forrestdale’s own Peer Mentors and Top Dawgs. These 8th grade students have been honing their leadership skills throughout the school year by planning events for all grade levels.
During this event, parents and students joined together in order to hear one another’s perspectives on key issues facing adolescents today. The format encouraged participants to actively listen, instead of simply waiting for their turn to speak, without interruptions or distractions.
The parents and students rotated between sitting in an inner and outer circle. While the Peer Leaders facilitated conversation with the inner circle, the sole job of those sitting in the outer circle was to concentrate on what was being said and to hopefully, reflect upon the conversation. Then, the outer circle had the opportunity to address what was said and bring up new topics when they had their turn in the inner circle.
Peer Mentors and Top Dawgs practiced and prepared for interactive discussions between parents and kids. Family members were divided into separate rooms to allow for a truthful discussion about serious issues such as social media, peer pressure, homework, grades, and drugs. The Forrestdale Peer Leaders led the discussions with each group starting with enthusiastic ice-breakers, like the “Values Line” to open-ended questions such as, what do parents worry most about for their kids and what do kids wish their parents knew about them? The event culminated with all groups returning to the cafeteria to enjoy refreshments and to reflect upon what they took away from the engaging discussions.
Playing a lead role provides an opportunity for these students to develop skills not often taught in the classroom. Being able to stand in front of your classmates as well as parents and deliver an activity such as this one with confidence and assurance is a skill that all students should have the opportunity to foster and develop.
The Fishbowl event encouraged dialogue between parents and their children, and reminded children that their parents have their best interests at heart and want to be connected to their everyday lives. Forrestdale hopes to have more events like this in the future because it was a positive and important experience for staff members and families in the Rumson School District community. Remember, your child has the right to make his or her own choices, and you have the right to decide how to respond.