So you’re a parent.
You’re a mom or a dad. You have a kid or kids.
Eventually, or already, your kids will or have become students. Prior to that first day of school they are just your kids, affectionately referred to as “my babies”, “our children”, or “those people that won’t stop following me around.” Once they walk through their first classroom door they officially and forever become students. At least it will feel like forever for some of you who will have children who discover in college that they “love” learning so much they never want to leave. Now that their school career has begun, you find yourself entrusting your most precious gifts to a system of people and practices that you may know very little about.
You’ve gotten them off to school…now what?
Remember when you found out there was going to be a little person in your lives? Once you recovered from the joy or shock, you ran out and found all the information you could on how to have The Best Baby Ever.
Ok, that may not have been the title but that was definitely the idea.
You wanted to take all the right vitamins, eat all the right food, and make all the right decisions as parents so that your baby would grow and develop and be perfect, at least in your eyes if no others.
Then the little bundle of joy decided to grace you with his or her presence…back to the bookstore (or iBook) and the search ensued. Looking for the best advice on caring for your infant proved to be exhausting and at times, all-consuming. This was your most important job. No time was too much or cost too big. They deserved the best because…they were yours.
School days…or daze.
Fast forward five years.
It usually begins with a change in how your child communicates. It seems as though they come home speaking some mutated form of English. You sit down at the kitchen table and begin to try to help them with their homework. You find that with all these new ways of teaching and higher expectations that are placed on students you are looking across the kitchen counter at a stranger. Your precious little person is being asked to use things like “the language of the standards,” (don’t have a clue right now? Just wait, I’ll help.). This person looks like the munchkin whose face you would fill with kisses and whose hand you would hold tight as you explained to them how to slide down the “big” slide. But now, this miniature person, your miniature person, has needs that you are not quite sure how to meet. You try to give them what you were given, but in today’s classroom it’s just not enough.
There are manuals and advice columns, written to help guide you successfully through dilemmas such as tantrums, hitting, social awkwardness, and potty-training, to name a few. But where do you go when it is time to help guide your child through school? The world of academia’s expectations and methods are changing faster than ever. New policies, new terminology, a whole new world is awaiting your child as they make the transition from child to student. And with each passing year the transition continues to evolve. During this evolution what you do as parents significantly impacts your child’s potential success.
I feel your pain.
In the beginning of my teaching career I would wonder why parents as a whole were so disinterested in what was going on in their children’s schools. As the years went by I paid closer attention. I reached out and made myself available. I also had my own little one. I began to understand a parent’s love and concern for their child. I realized that this disconnect was not due to a lack of concern, but instead a lack of understanding, support and honesty. There was a gap. Parents did not understand what was happening in their children’s schools and classrooms. Many parents did not feel welcome enough to ask. And some were just so overwhelmed by feelings of desperation and a desire to see their child succeed that they did not know where to begin. I watched as conferences left many parents feeling the same way they did during homework time, confused. As a teacher I found myself between a rock and hard place when it came to helping my students, their parents and staying “loyal” to my profession. I did not feel like it was appropriate to interject my personal or even professional opinion at times. My own fears of administrative backlash and not wanting to rock the boat plagued me. I remember sitting through parent/teacher conferences and listening to parents’ concerns and dissatisfaction with the system. I understood, completely. I too had my own issues with the way things were being done. I also knew that on many levels my parents did not know their rights. They had no idea that in truth they were not being given the full picture. This gap left a great deal of my students maneuvering through school on their own.
Parents everywhere want their children to succeed. In my virtual classroom, I will offer tips, advice, questions and answers, problems and solutions that will help you and help your student. So many times teachers are bound by an unspoken code. We want so desperately to tell our parents the truth about the classroom, about education. What grades really mean. Who is making the decisions and why. How you can help your child maximize his or her educational experience when they are falling behind or excelling faster than the curriculum being presented to them. As we embark on this blogging journey together it is my goal to help fill in some of your gaps. I believe in the soul of America’s schools. It is bright and full of promise. Stay connected with me as we rebuild the bridge between school and home.
Let’s make this school year the best one yet!