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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Before school starts: helpful hints.

Thank you Tessa: http://anarealarmadillo.blogspot.com/
I'm not sure I thanked Tessa at Anarealarmadillo for this wonderful award. If you do not know her, please hop along and visit her. There is a lot to learn about reaching out from the wonderful Tessa. And today, with schools starting in many places, we all need to reach out and help each other through.

This week, I wanted to reach out to all you mothers and fathers of school-age children.
School opens for many early in September; for some it has already open. Parents are probably concerned about lots of things when their youngsters start a new term. And this is a good time to share with you some little known nuggets of information.
1. Schools run on a very tight schedule and an even tighter budget. They deal with hundreds of children, hundreds of parents, and hundreds of employees. They are in a business run on precise schedules and even more precise rules. Do not bother them with silly questions during the busiest time of their year. Unless you want to be on their "watch these folks" list.
2.Your child is one of many. His/her welfare is important; his happiness is important; but not as important as you think. What is most important is that things run smoothly, everything and everyone in the appropriate place, and that your child knows how not to tip this delicate scale.
3. Follow the instructions sent to you regarding schedules, supplies, contacts, emergency numbers, etc. Schools do not like sending home stuff either. But, they do not have time to call you individually and remind you of these things. You may think that they should have all this information in their files/computers. They may not. So, for your child's welfare, send the information, follow the schedule, buy the right supplies, and do not call the school to find out information you have in your packets!
4. Schools have to survive with fewer resources every year. If they ask for volunteers to help, they need conscientious helpers. You might ask yourself what the heck are you paying taxes for, when you get all these requests to volunteer, to fundraise, to donate money and merchandise. Without volunteers, lots of events and opportunities for children would not take place.
5. Wait and see how your child is doing. If he/she tells you that he hates his classes, his seat mate, his lunch schedule, whatever he/she dislikes can wait to be discussed back at school. Your child needs to handle his/her discomfort. Ask what he can do to alleviate the problem. Yes. Not what the school can do to move him to another class, but what your child can do to tolerate the discomfort. Why? Because, in life, he will encounter many discomforts that he needs to handle. If mommy or school solves his problems, how will he learn? You can jump on me on this one. This one is tough.
I'm stopping here. You can gather your thoughts and vent back at me if you wish.

33 comments:

jinksy said...

Personally, I'm glad my second childhood doesn't need me to go back to school!

Debbie said...

No vented needed. They all sound like great pieces of advice to me.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Kind of reassuring to be honest. A mother's instinct is to get the system right for her child and sometimes we need reminding that they'll be fine despite the discomfort.

Kim Kasch said...

Good advice - but. . .

My son told me he had a crazy teacher one year. He was in high school. I said, "Yeah, right. Just get along."

Something came up and I had to call the woman. She started screaming at me like a lunatic-literally for no reason. When my son got home from school, I said, "That teacher of yours is crazy."

He said, "I've been saying that for months."

We worked together to get him out of that class - so, sometimes, Moms gotta listen.

Nancy said...

All good suggestions. I always made my children responsible for the most part. They do need to find their own way, and they usually do given time.

Lola said...

My little boy starts PreK in 10 days, and I am a nervous wreck. I'm trying to cover my emotions because he's beginning to pick up on my discomfort and manifesting the desire to NOT go to this new school after his idyllic 2 years of daycare/preschool.

There's learning involved for both of us in this new upcoming andventure.

Cia Maestra,
~Lola xx

the walking man said...

Seeing as all of mine are either graduated and working or working on a second (third) degree and working I suppose it is well past time for me to simply butt out of the schools business with them.

But actually it is sage advice for them with kids in K-8.

The project is a book of poetry on my side bar entitled STINK.

Thank you for asking.

Helen said...

This 'post of wisdom' was sent to my daughter and the mom of almost 13-year old Boy-Wonder and 16-year old Young Woman-Precious....

Lyn said...

Such good advice -- I especially like where you suggest that the child learn how to solve their own discomforts. I made it a rule of practice not to change my daughters' teachers under any circumstances (no matter how tempting). I was of the mind that we have to teach our children that there will be many times that they will have to cope with a "bad" prof or boss - and they won't be able to just "switch" or take the easy way out. I encouraged them to develop their own coping mechanisms. Often they found a way to actually develop a meaningful relationship with the teacher they started out disliking.

Thanks for sharing advice from your unique vantage point!

Gaston Studio said...

Excellent advice Rosario, just excellent.

Wander to the Wayside said...

I absolutely agree with all of this, and my elementary school counselor daughter (on temporary hiatus to be with her kids) has ranted more than once about parents who don't read those packets!

However, on #5, though I agree wholeheartedly with it, a parent does have to use that sixth sense to determine if something else is going on besides the child's discomfort. When Melody was in 5th grade, she'd come home EVERY DAY and burst into tears when I asked her how her day was. The day had been ruined by her math teacher, she'd say, who called her stupid and yelled at her. Of course I thought she just hated math, but one day I paid an unexpected visit and stood outside the classroom. You know what - that teacher called several students stupid and ignorant, and yelled at them! However, when I actually sat in the class for a couple of days, he couldn't have been nicer! Then when I stood outside the door again - it started all over. And many students, knowing what I had done, came up to me and THANKED ME for monitoring the room, because no one believed them when they said what he was doing!

Needless to say, I went to the principal. And found out that that teacher was, indeed, bordering on out of control, had been teaching for something like 30 years and was on burnout. He would be 'retiring' very soon.

So absolutely let your children fight their own battles and suck up some of their discomfort, but listen to your gut and that sixth sense that every parent has.

Gran said...

Hi lakeviewer. For some reason, your feed is not working in Google Reader. Yours is the only one I can't access. Thank goodness I can access you on my Blogger friend connect list.

Good post, by the way. My grandchildren are getting ready to go back to school.

Matawheeze said...

My daughter, who is both a high school teacher and the parent of school-age children, is all for self-reliance in her own kids. She tells tales of students who expect all to be exactly as they want. What a shock when those babes discover the real world couldn't care less about their needs. I used to ask my daughter if she wanted me to come to school and handle a problem. Generally she chose to do it herself.

Monkey Man said...

Being involved with your children in school and out of school is a part of being a good parent. Yes, you have to give your kids an opportunity to solve their own problems, but as Kim illustrates, you also have to know enough about an issue to know when to step in.

I have a daughter with diagnosed anxiety disorder and she and school just don't work. So home schooling and working toward a GED is the best solution for her.

Thanks for the insite, lakeviewer.

Lori ann said...

I think this list should be printed out and added to the going home packet of each and every child.

great advice Rosaria.

p.s. re #5, there were a few times, with a couple teachers, but as you said we took the wait and see aproach first. After 5 children and 65 combined years of school, thats not too bad.

Brian Miller said...

my oldest started 1st grade last week. he loves it. they have a guinea pig in their room and get to feed it each day...teaching responsibility. wonder if that is on the standardized test? some sound advice here...we love volunteering at the school as well. its amazing what a littletime with the kids will do to you or teach you...

Beth said...

Fantastic advice! I understand that parents have anxiety (I'm a parent,too!) but I really wish I could help parents understand the ultimate goal is for each student to grow up to be mature, responsible adults. We can't keep them little and dependent because that only hurts them in the end. Having children learn how to deal with disappointments and discomforts teaches them problem solving skills and teaches them responsibility. I've never met a child who suddenly woke up at 18 and declared himself responsible. It is the growing up that prepares them for that.

But listen to me. I'm preaching to the choir.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"he will encounter many discomforts that he needs to handle. If mommy or school solves his problems, how will he learn?"


Absolutely. Great post.

The Things We Carried said...

Very good food for thought. My stomach turns to remember the not so good years...

Maggie May said...

Good advice and I especially like 5.
Children do need to learn to cope with new things & not have parents trying to sort out small worries, though obviously they need to get involved if there is anything more serious going on.
Our schools start this week on Thursday!

karen said...

Lovely award from Tessa, who is indeed an inspiration!

Good schooling advice, though I haven't had anything to do with schools for a while now (happily!).

I loved your earlier post, too - the walk on the beach!

Dave King said...

Good, clear-headed, sensible suggestions. If only...

Shadow said...

sound words of 'advice' these...

Cinnamon said...

Interesting! I am afraid being a 'laisser-faire' mum, trusting the school to handle things, did not do much for my son, whose significant learning difficulty went undiagnosed throughout his 10 years in school.

He's still, at 18, getting over the trauma.

No, I wish I had been more proactive and held the school to account more.

Renee said...

Congrats on the award, how we love our Tessa.

I loved your last point especially and how teachers that see this must be happy.

xooxo

Merisi said...

Good teachers are true treasures in a child'd life.

When there are problems, it is always a fine balance between trusting a teacher and listening to one's child and following one's instinct.

Tiffany Norris said...

These are great tips! They also shed some light on why I'm thinking of homeschooling when I do have kids. :)

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

I'm thankful that my are all past the school age and that they have to deal with children and school.:0
I think it's great advice though!

Diane said...

What a great post! I get so tired of hearing those parents who whine and moan about the way things 'should be' but who don't follow the rules and make things the 'way they are'. I feel for teachers!

Kikit said...

This entry speaks in behalf of all the teachers.:)

vanessa said...

great advice!

lakeviewer said...

Hi folks,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do understand the anxiety of parents whose experiences were not so good. The world is not perfect; teachers and administrators are human beings, with a range of skills and character flaws; children come in all sizes and all temperaments and some may need a lot of extra attention. With all that said, the job of parents is one of being the most attentive and the best advocate for the child.

My hints are not to discourage you from keeping your antennas tuned. I'm encouraging you to allow your child to feel all aspects of life, every experience that might seem scary at first, and allow that child to grow from such experience, to talk about it, to describe and weigh how and what he feels in light of the benefits he gains from the experience.

My eldest child was afraid of school, and I was tempted to home-school. If he had other children around, I would have. At that time, I felt he needed socialization, opportunities with other children. He had a tough time at first. We talked; we drew pictures of his feelings; we wrote stories of how we wished things would be; we play-acted different scripts on how to respond to various children; we explored how people feel; we explored how people act with the feelings they have. I armed him with language, with concepts, with assurances that things change in time, that people change too.

That boy grew up and became a teacher, an understanding and caring human being. His mother/me could have spared him the initial struggle that helped him develop sympathy and caring.

Lori Lynn said...

Sounds like excellent advice.
LL