Six weeks into Kindergarten and we’re settled into the routine. Annabel is doing very well so far. Her reading is improving by leaps and bounds, her handwriting is…marginally better (lefties, man), and her social confidence is through the roof. We have parent/teacher conferences next week and since her teacher and I touch base every day after school, I don’t foresee any surprises.
I, on the other hand, am still trying to navigate the murky waters of Being An Elementary School Parent. I was worried that, thanks to Annabel’s placement in the K-1 Split instead of a traditional Kindergarten, I’d be out of the loop – not quite “in” with the Kindergarten families, not exactly belonging with the first grade families. But we’ve been lucky. The first grade parents I’ve interacted with have been incredibly welcoming, and most of the Kindergarten families in our class either attended the school’s Transitional Kindergarten last year, or have older siblings at the school. My learning curve has been lessened by them, and I’m very thankful.
Mike was out-of-town during Annabel’s Back to School Night (basically a classroom orientation for parents), so he wasn’t there to keep me from signing up for every volunteer position possible (I’m now a room parent, class photographer, field trip chaperone, and in-class helper…I really need to learn how to say no). This means I’m at the school often, and I’ve already seen a lot. Most of it is great – there are some fantastic, caring people at our school. But the one thing I’m really struck by is how many parents treat school as The Enemy.
This isn’t just something unique to where we are. Every day on social media I see parents make statements like, “I will slap that teacher if my child doesn’t get XYZ.” Or, “My kid has hurt feelings because she didn’t earn a Good Behavior sticker on her daily chart, I’m calling the principal!” Or, “I don’t like the curriculum at this school so I am talking to my lawyer.” When I see this stuff, my jaw hits the floor.
This isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of valid reasons to contact your children’s teachers and principals. It’s just so surprising to me how many parents go into these interactions with a chip on their shoulder. I emailed Annabel’s principal a couple weeks ago over a playground concern. After a few back and forth emails, the principal wrote, “Wow, you are so nice.” It made me sad – what kind of emails is she getting that my ordinary, polite inquiry was deemed, “so nice?”
To me, education is a team effort, with the school and me on the same team. I’m certain there will be plenty of times over the years where I’ll have to advocate for my children, and I won’t hesitate to do it. I just don’t see how it will help me to go into these meetings rude and on the offensive. The last thing I’d want is for my kids to have the “difficult parent” label attached to them. Educators have such a hard, thankless job, and I don’t see what good it does any of us to make it harder.