This is a guest post by Denyse from Denyse Whelan Blogs to Connect
The minute your child goes to school is one where parents and carers hand over ‘responsibility’ for the part of the day spent there, it’s known as ‘in locus parentis’ in the place of the parent.
It does not matter that you have been to school yourself, it is definitely a very big moment when you send one of your own to school.
Generally I know that families are positive and hopeful about the relationship they will have with the personnel at the school where their children enrol. First interactions from the Front Office staff will have been professional and friendly. This is what I would hope as because a principal I knew that first impressions are so important!
Then there is a whole new set of rules, boundaries and policies to know about for each school. There will be many in common with their governing body – be it the state, the church or an independent group – and these will generally include:
- Times of arrival and departure of students from the school – these will be based on the hours the children are actually in school for learning and are based on active supervision of students’ policy.
- Behaviour expectations of students in the school, on their way to school and on the way home, due to ‘duty of care.’
- Uniform, homework, fees, excursions, testing and more and there will be policies and procedures.
- Curriculum content and teaching methods – are mandatory from the Australian curriculum – and will be overseen by each state or territory.
What I suggest as most helpful to you and the relationship you are growing and tending with your child’s school is this:
- Be a positive role model when speaking about the school in front of your child. Try, as much as possible, to avoid direct criticism and/or social media discussions about the school.
- Get to know what the school’s policies and procedures are when you may want to engage informally and formally with the class teacher, the assistant principal, deputy principal or principal.
- Schools include information on “how to make best contact” on their websites and in literature given to families at enrolment time and it is well worth the read.
- Take your time to get to know the school, the environment, the class itself and how things ‘work’ there. Not all schools are the same and they are often nothing like when we went to school. Mind you, some still might be!
Some ideas for you to become better involved with the school:
- Attend the first weeks’ evenings or afternoons of ‘meet the teacher’ and/or ‘what is happening for your child in 2016’.
- Add your name to a roster if there is one (and you can be involved) to become a canteen/tuckshop helper, a classroom volunteer, a library book coverer (my daughter is a teacher-librarian in brand new school and the children would not have books to borrow without an awesome band of parents who cover books!)
- Read the notes that come home, the app information updates and keep in touch with the homework, excursion and payment requirements, as there is sometimes a cut off payment date.
- Attend the parent group meetings (you may “not necessarily” get elected to a position) as every school really appreciates those who can be of assistance to aid the school’s endeavours.
What to do if you have an issue (minor or major) with something:
- Listen to your child if the ‘something’ is being told to you and take time to digest what has been heard. If it is of major concern, then contact the school (as per the policies) and calmly see if you can make an appointment to discuss the matter.
- If it is something heard by others/seen by others and reported to you, then be aware of not taking everything on board without checking in with the school.
- I do not ever recommend that you ‘take matters into your own hands’. This is the kind of thing that can escalate and become a police matter
- Given that teachers and schools can be contacted by email 24/7 I would suggest that you be aware of how you make that first contact. Sometimes letting a few hours or overnight go by can help. I would be realistic about ‘response times’ too given the professional and personal responsibilities of all school personnel.
- Nevertheless, do not let things ’sit’ with you if there is a concern that is both real and a worry to you and your child.
- This is what the school can do and I would hope does it well.
- The school’s personnel will listen to your concerns either on the phone or in person.
- They will tell you that there will be something done and/or an investigation into whatever is raised and that you will be informed of the outcome.
- The school will reassure you that your child will not be disadvantaged in any way.
This is offered with the school’s perspective in mind so that you, the parents/carers may better understand that as schools are managing the needs and welfare of many students. However, never think your child does not “count”, because he or she does indeed! Just kindly keep in mind that policies and procedures, along with an adult to adult relationship with the school will assist greatly in any way where you may need to contact the school about a concern or issue.
I wish you a happy and successful school year in 2016 and enjoy the many interactions each day you have with your children about ‘how school went today!” Here’s some of Kat’s conversation starter ideas to hear how your childs day at school went.About Denyse Whelan B.Ed. M.Ed.
K-6 Principal (retired). Former K-6 Education Consultant to Pre-Schools. Retired University Tutor – Masters of Education Pre-Service Teachers.
She has been married to a fellow retired teacher for almost 45 years, is the mother of two grown children, both of whom are in professional careers and who are raising their own families, Denyse’s 8 grandchildren, aged from 18 to 7 months!
In the latter part of Denyse’s career, after her retirement as principal, Denyse became carer over 2-3 days a week to three of the grandchildren from when they were around 6 months until pre-school and school starting times. She enjoyed this part of her involvement with her family very much.