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Parents - The 8th Team Member

Yes, they are the ones who are driving the carpools, forking out money for pizza, drinks, snacks, opening closets for major scavenging, waiting while the team cleans up after a practice, postponing dinner because one more prop needed to be finished so it could dry and generally watching from the sidelines while the team gets creative. Parents can be a teams secret weapon, the “wind beneath the wings” of the team and coach, and are a vital part to the Odyssey of the Mind program. As a coach, it is necessary to explain to parents how they can be involved to assist the team without hurting the team. Below is a list of what can and cannot do to help them understand their role.

It’s important for parents to understand the value in letting teams solve the problem on their own. Offering ideas or providing solutions does not teach the team to be able to do this on their own. Asking facilitating questions does. Parents will take greater joy in watching their son or daughter grow in their problem solving skills rather than providing them the answer. When adults tell the kids the solution, it is sending a subtle message that they cannot figure it out for themselves. Remember, one of the goals of Odyssey of the Mind is to teach kids creativity and problem solving skills. As adults you will be amazed at the end of the season at what the kids will be able to do own their own.

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  • Transport the team to buy things

  • Transport the props

  • Teach the team members a skill such as sewing, woodworking, art, electronics, engineering and simple machine principles, welding, calligraphy

  • Help provide snacks

  • Bring Spontaneous problems and supplies

  • Help get props into the building and into the staging area for the tournament

  • Open attics, closets, basements, recycle bins, for garage sale value materials

  • Provide lots of encouragement

  • Provide a place to meet and/or store props

  • Get everyone and everything to the tournament

  • Applaud A LOT and help get props offstage after the performance

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  • Suggest what to buy

  • Repair props if they break for whatever reason

  • Sew anything, paint anything, cut anything, or do anything to contribute to the team’s problem solution.

  • Put emphasis on score rather than fun.

  • Give the team any ideas for their solution

  • Suggest to the team which skills would result in a better looking or better functioning solution

  • Suggest what materials to use from the attic, closet, basement or recycle bins

  • Expect perfection from a solution not done by adults

  • Analyze why something failed or did not work

  • Criticize any part of the team’s solution

  • Suggest to the team which skills to use to solve a problem

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