It s that time of year and there’s lots of talk about what families want from their schools and teachers. For a hot moment here and there I get caught up in convos and then I realize, as a parent, I need nothing fancy or trendy. I asked a few friends (from various schools), thinking maybe I was not of the norm…and they all responded with almost the same kind of answers (some of which I’ve inserted throughout).
First and foremost, I want my child to be safe. I want to know that the people caring for my children the 6 hours or so when they are not with me, are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they come home that afternoon. We live in a different world than the one I grew up in, it’s more than a crossing guard at the street corner and periodic fire drills.
I want the best educational experience possible for my child. “For my child,” because each child is unique and what is best for little Joey three seats over isn’t always what’s best for my child. This means you need to get to know them. You need to know what makes him/her tick; when you can push them to do more and when they are overwhelmed.
I say “ experience” because I want more than good grades on tests. I want them to experience learning in ways that I might not think of as a parent or have the means to teach at home. I want them to see your passion in learning and want to mimic it. Yes, I expect them to know that 2×2=4; why that is, other ways to get the same results, and how to get the answer when someone isn’t there to help them. But education is more than test grades. They’re in a room/building full of people their own age who very well may come from a place unlike what they know at home. That might mean a different religious belief/culture, how they get down the hallway, or that family doesn’t always equal a mom, a dad, a brother, sister and dog. These things should be celebrated and shared. One thing I love about my children’s school more than the one I attended is the diversity. For me growing up, we had to read, watch a movie, or travel to learn about others different from us. My children have the ability to learn about them from their friends, classmates and neighbors. If our schools have that, we should use that to our advantage. Let the kids and their families share their first-hand knowledge with others. What better way to expand their mind and make them more empathetic to others as they go through life; teaching them that the world is bigger than them.
Communicate with me…not just at. I like using technology to communicate; it is my preference since it makes it easier for me when on the go – but it isn’t required. A simple hand-written note or phone call works just as well. But if my job is to make sure my children head into school prepared and then support your efforts from home; I need to know what and when something is happening. (Yes we need to teach our kids to be responsible for themselves – but younger ones don’t always remember, and I don’t enjoy having to run items to the school last minute nor do I enjoy seeing my child in tears because they missed a spirit day or did poorly on a test because didn’t feel comfortable asking for help in class). I enjoy knowing what they are learning and what is expected of them. Not to be the helicopter parent who doesn’t trust you are doing your best – but because there are many opportunities for us to build on these lessons at home; providing them with a deeper understanding. Ultimately – I want to have a line of communication in place from the start of the year so that we all are being proactive and not reactive. I’m a much happier mom when I know an issue seems to be arising (be it with learning or social), then when I am learning about the issue too late (i.e. report card has been issued or my child is sitting in the principal’s office).
Along the same lines – I want to be Informed. This may be my oldest child or first time experiencing this issue and I am learning some things as I go. If you know of tools, resources or upcoming events…please share them. I don’t take insult that I am a bad parent and need to be told or taught. I know I am a good parent – but I don’t necessarily know how to help my child struggle with a learning issue that I never had myself or how to apply for financial aid to minimize the amount of money we are spending out of pocket for them to attend college. Just as I turn to my dentist to provide me with the best treatment options out there today for my teeth, I turn to the school to provide me with the resources or answers out there to help me provide the best education possible for my children.
Respect. Just as you want my child and I to respect you and your position; I want you to respect my child and me as equal partners in their education. You may have the degree in education – but we all bring something valuable to the conversation.
In making these requests, in return I promise to support your efforts from home. To respect and trust you with my child. Ultimately…do the same from home that I am asking to be done at school.