Tips for Sending Your Child to School
by SM Ford
Nervous about sending your child off to school? After all, he’ll be away from you for many of his daytime hours. She’ll be influenced by other people; people who are probably strangers. What will he learn? Will she make friends? Will he change?
Life will change for both of you as she goes off to school, but you don’t have to stop being part of her life during those hours.
Here are some suggestions on how to stay in touch:
Notes. Will your child take a lunch or a snack to school? Besides packing something you know he likes to eat, enclose a drawing of a smiley face or a heart. Or include a sticker that will remind your child that you love her and are thinking of her. Later as he learns to read, write short notes. If she doesn’t take a lunch, put the note in her backpack.
Talking. When he comes home ask him about his day. Don’t ask a question that can be answered in one word, such as, “How was school?” “Fine.” Instead ask open-ended questions such as, “What did you do at school today?” or “What did you like best about school today?” Encourage her to tell you about the kids she met. Or what he did at recess. Or what she thinks of her teacher. Or something he learned. Tell her about your day. What you did. Who you saw. Your example can help her learn how to relay information to you.
Meet other parents. Talk to other parents when you take your child to school or to the bus stop. Parents with older children can give you insight about the school experience. Invite your child’s new friends and their parents to informal gatherings or playtimes. These provide a good time for adults to discuss concerns. And besides learning together, you might make new friends, too.
Attend school functions. Go to “curriculum night” or “open house” and parent/teacher conferences. You might be amazed how many parents pass up these opportunities. Attending shows both your child and her teacher that you want to be involved in his education.
Volunteer classroom help. Ask your child’s teacher if she needs help. Opportunities range from being a “room parent,” to helping from home, to being an in-class volunteer.
· Room parents plan holiday parties for the kids—usually three to four a year. Some room parents help with monthly birthday parties as well.
· Parents can help at home by preparing craft projects, grading papers, organizing book orders, coordinating volunteers, finding drivers for field trips, and more.
· In-class volunteers perform a variety of duties. Some schools have Art or Science Docents who come in once a month and share a piece of art or a science experiment. Some teachers like having one or two parents working in the classroom every day. These parents read stories, help with activities, grade papers, work with kids individually or in groups, use computers, etc.
· In addition, do you have a special hobby or something you can share with your child’s classmates? Many teachers appreciate parents who offer to share a talent or skill with the class.
Volunteer in the school. The Health Room usually needs parents who can bandage a knee or take a temperature. Some schools use parents to help with crowd control in the Lunch Room or on the playground. The school office can often use help with answering the phone, photocopying, sorting mail. The library might need help shelving books. And, don’t forget to join your local PTA or PTSA. They can use help with such things as special projects, reading programs, fund-raisers, newsletters, young author programs, math programs. All of these contribute to your child’s education.
(Some parents even volunteer at their local school before their child is school age.)
Whichever suggestions you choose to follow, you can become better acquainted with school personnel, school customs and rules, other children at school, and other parents. You can gain a better understanding of the place where your child spends her day. Being in touch will help you feel more comfortable about his time away from you.
About the Author
SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, who has also lived in the Midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can't figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.
Sue likes traveling and animals, especially those in the cat family, and has a dog and cat who own her.
You can read Sue’s “Real Parenting” column on the 4th Thursday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.