Monthly Archives: November 2013

I Am Not A Perfect Parent!

Not A Perfect Parent

 

Perfection does not exist; especially in parenting.

Just this week…

  • I forgot about the “Read With Me” with my 1st grader. The only thing that saved me was that I was going to the school anyway, and remembered as I was parking.
  • I lost track of time and didn’t get home before my 7th grader (and I took his house key because I have temporarily misplaced mine), leaving him locked out of the house in the chilly fall weather for 15 min until I got home.
  • Made my daughter skip her dance class, not because she was sick, but because I couldn’t bear to do anything more or go anywhere else that day.

Yet somewhere, somehow along the line, I have given the impression that I am a “perfect parent.”  In my opinion, they don’t exist and anyone that says they do has never been a parent. When I mentioned to my children that someone might have this impression, all of them laughed. One said, “why would they say that?” Another, “that’s what they think!” And the best I got was a semi head nod and “so-so” hand gesture (from my littlest one…because at 6 I still rate).

The conversation came up in passing with another parent when we began talking about our children and school. This parent was almost apologetic when she said there are some nights that after a long day at work she simply wants to watch her show on occasion. Not do school work. When I said, I am no better, she was relieved and said I should video tape my evening as evidence. This makes me literally nauseous to hear another parent feel bad or apologize for not living up to anyone else’s standards.

Earlier this month, we hosted #ParentCamp at our school. Our keynote speaker was psychologist, Dr Adam Berman. He mentioned so many important points for parents to remember:

  • It is not natural nor beneficial for anyone to be solely focused on our child’s needs
  • Do not judge yourself or other parents
  • We need to have empathy for ourselves as parents
  • We need to learn from previous experiences
  • And….there is NO perfect parent

Parenting has to be one of the most difficult jobs. There is no training beforehand and there is no right answer. Not only can what works for one household not work for another – but what works for one child may very well not work for their sibling. Add to that the fact that there are no days off. (This was one of the harshest realities I remember facing as a new parent.) We have to do what we feel is best for our family…no one else’s.

So besides being bothered that someone has held me to a standard that I can never live up to; I was concerned that this image can or will cause others to tone out the suggestions that I and others share on how families can support their children and be effective advocates. Besides helping to build relationships between home and school, sharing out information and resources is the most important role our group can play. If someone thinks that these ideas are all or nothing. Then chances are they are going to opt for the nothing when they can’t keep up with doing it all every day.

When we share information with parents, be it from a PTO or school. I think we need to preface it with the fact that no one is expected to do these things with their child every day (other than love them, feed them and provide them with shelter). That you do WHAT you can, WHEN you can. That something IS better than nothing. Yes, we have goals to strive for – but they are just that, they are goals we are striving for. We share many, many ideas…it is up to each family to choose which best suit their family and that they can manage…and that may be different each day.

So for the record…Yes I try to be the best parent I can be, and I believe I have many good moments, but I don’t manage to do everything, every day. I am not a perfect parent, never will be, AND I don’t ever expect anyone else to be. 


School Transparency; For or Against?

techquestion

Over the past year our principal has made transparency a top priority in my children’s elementary school. For us, transparency looks like: multiple emails throughout the week highlighting the learning taking place on all grade levels, daily tweets by both the principal and classroom teachers, frequent blog posts by teachers and students, and opportunities for frank and honest discussion at PTA meetings. This format has been so successful that it seems the other schools in the district have decided to implement similar tools as well.

As schools shift to implementing more technology and social media, it seems to bring forward reasonable anxieties. Parents are very cautious about the privacy of their children as well as what this new push means in the classroom. Parents question the need for such transparency and have concerns about the possible effects of this new media format.

As a proponent for transparency I would like to layout my argument for not only accepting it, but encouraging it.

My analogy – Transparency at school is like a newspaper; there is so much information available, yet you choose what is most important to you. If you are interested in the weather – proceed to the weather section. If that’s not for you, you might choose to focus on local news, and of course there is world news. You get my point – we sift through information all the time. School transparency is the same concept. Whether it is test scores, curriculum changes, in-class lessons, etc. information is available for parents to see.

As principals and teachers incorporate transparency, there is often a push towards new technology options. Learning programs, apps, and social media sites require a growth period. We need to allow for schools to get comfortable with these new tools and customize them to our needs. Also, districts need to determine and publish guidelines for how and when these new technologies are used. As with any tool, they are only as good as the user. Making technology meaningful and useful is a challenge for all those involved.

It is my firm belief that when schools offer to share information with parents, don’t say no. Never close the door to information about your child. While you may not want that information today, it might not be available tomorrow if you change your mind. Collaborating with administrators and teachers by sharing concerns while maintaining the flow of information is key. Most importantly, it gives us a seat at the table.


SheilaSpeaking

A space for thinking, reflecting and sharing about education -- and the odd other thing...

Ingvi Hrannar

Icelandic educator, iPad 1:1 classroom, speaker & entrepreneur.

Penn-Finn Learnings 2013

Sharing our inquiries - March 23-30

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