If you do not have a direct personal relationship with the school secretary, to the point where she would testify for you in court as a character witness, don’t get grumpy if she asks for id when you pick up your child early for an appointment. Saying, “Well I’m her mother!” doesn’t mean much. Anyone could claim to be your child’s parent. While it can be an inconvenience to go back to the car for your id, take it as proof that the staff in the office actually cares whether your child is safe. You wouldn’t walk into a jewelry store to pick up a repaired bauble without id, so why would you expect to take a child without it? Your child is infinitely more valuable than the most precious gem – consider them as such. I certainly do.
If your phone number changes, please, for the love of all that is good and sparkly, update your child’s file with the school. It breaks my heart when a child falls ill or is in need of you and they cannot reach you. On a similar note, teach your kids their number. There is no excuse for a 3rd grader or older (without special needs) to not know their phone number. Also, please find a way to keep at least one phone turned on – that’s one bill that should be paid religiously.
If you have concerns about things that your child’s teacher is doing or how things are being handled, talk to the teacher first. If things are not handled to your satisfaction, ask for a meeting with the principal. Bear in mind that principals have extremely busy schedules and cannot always drop everything to see you.
Don’t get huffy if someone mispronounces your child’s weird name or misspells their freakish version of a traditional name. I’m sure that the weird spelling has some tremendously deep personal meaning for you but it’s weird. Accept that it’s going to be butchered occasionally. I do my best to respect the names and what they represent but I’m only human and make mistakes.
When your child is going to miss school, notify the office. If you get a call from the school that your child was marked absent, calmly deal with it. If they should have been in school, ask the clerk to double check with the teacher – you should be able to even stay on hold while it happens. Do whatever you have to do to stay calm during this time. I know it’s terrifying to get that call, but it’s for your child’s safety. If they are actually in class and it turns out to be a mistake, remind yourself that humans and computers make errors. Focus on the fact that the school is actually investigating absences and notifying parents rather than just disregarding an unaccounted for child.
Habitual tardiness is ridiculous. Buy an alarm clock. Go to bed early. Get your kid to school on time. Your child’s education suffers if they are constantly tardy. It sets a horrible precedent for their life and is a distraction for the whole class.
Feed your children a healthy breakfast and make sure that they have a lunch or money to buy lunch. A hungry child will not be able to focus well enough to learn. Donuts do not count as a healthy breakfast. That’s fine for an occasional treat but is not a good way for a child to start their school day.
At some point you are going to need to cut the apron strings. There comes a point when your child’s separation anxiety is entirely your fault. Stop indulging the ten minute sob sessions in the foyer. Walk them to class and hand them off to the teacher. Do not comfort them incessantly. They will calm down when they have lost you as their audience. The shorter the drop-off, the faster the transition. Give them a chance to learn how to calm themselves. Teachers know how to handle kids with separation anxiety – let them do their job.
Volunteer! Especially with the PTO/PTA/PTSA/PTWhatever. You can make a huge difference for your child’s school. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to enrich the lives of so many students. Schools are much better places when the community is involved.
I am not an ATM. Do not send your kids in with $50 bills on picture day and expect the secretary to make change. That’s just dumb.
Last but not least, be nice to the office staff. They do their best to support the teachers and principal so that the focus can remain on your children. A school secretary can make your life so much easier and will jump through hoops for you if you are polite. Try to remember that we’re not there because the pay is fantastic – we’re there because we care about the kids.
on Oct. 11, 2013 at 10:19 PM