Forrestdale’s Fisbowl of Communication

It’s all about opening up lines of communication — getting a good look from the outside in, like a fishbowl.

That was the impetus behind the annual Fishbowl Event that’s been held at Forrestdale School in Rumson now for a decade. And the latest Fishbowl was no exception.

Hosted by what have been dubbed TOP Dawgs and peer mentors, this year’s Fishbowl, held on March 23, was deemed by staff as another successful venue in which parents and students can gain “insight into one another’s thoughts and feelings,” Forrestdale School Guidance Counselor Jenn Crow said in a released statement.

“The key to the organization of the discussion groups is that no family members are in the same classroom. And the Fishbowl configuration in each classroom — with a circle in the middle for discussion and an outside circle for active listening only — allows for optimal freedom of expression as well.”

The take-away for some parents: that many kids don’t want to talk to them for fear of getting into trouble or placing additional stress on them.

Fishbowl is demystifies the notion.

Here’s how it goes: Forrestdale sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students and their parents attend. To warm up the crowd, the TOP Dawgs host what is called an Ice-Breaker portion during which students and parents are divided into separate groups.

In the Ice-Breaker session, the two groups to learn some fun facts about one another, such as their respective tastes in music, and other factoids such as whether they preferred healthy or junk food.

Parents and students are then sent to assigned classrooms, where peer mentors lead discussions.

Students begin the discussion with prepared questions such as: “What are some of the things kids worry about?” and “What causes kids to lose patience with their parents?”

After the students speak for about 15 or 20 minutes, it’s the parents’ turn to take the floor. Questions for the parents include: “What is the hardest part about being a parent?” and “What causes parents to lose patience with their kids?”

“The Fishbowl Event is exciting, because it is designed to let kids and parents share their points of view on important topics,” said Peer Mentor Jenna Unger in the release.

“It’s a great opportunity for parents and kids to unite,” TOP Dawg Thomas Kilbourne said.



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