You drop your children off at school in the morning, then go on your merry little way…but do you really know what goes on behind closed doors? Do you know what the administrators, teachers, and volunteers are really doing behind your back? I am here to pull back that veil of secrecy and expose the dirty little secrets no one wants to talk about, the facts you need to know about your kid’s school.
You may wonder how I know these secrets, and why I would want to share them with you? Let’s just say I have been around the playground a few times. I have a kid of my own in school, and have worked and volunteered at school. I studied education and completed a year of student teaching, so have been in the inner sanctum, so to speak…it’s not pretty. I have also worked as a volunteer, in four different parent organizations, three different parent association board positions, and numerous chair positions. I have seen it all, done it all, and cannot keep these secrets to myself any more. Hold onto your hat, because this ride is going to get a little bumpy!
- Schools usually do not have enough money in their budgets for classroom supplies, so teachers are expected to provide supplies for their classrooms out of their own pocket. Teachers are not exactly “rolling in the Benjamins”, so don’t always have enough funds to pay for these supplies, and with 25-30 kids per classroom, that bill can add up quickly. Teachers might ask parents to help contribute supplies to the classroom, and most parents are willing to give supplies if they can afford it. Some don’t, however, because they don’t want to be bothered, or because they expect the school to “pony up” the cash. Shameful, huh? Donate if you can. Buy supplies on sale so you can buy double, and don’t ust donate at the beginning of the year, donate again later in the year.
- Your child’s teacher often works late into the evening grading papers, writing lesson plans, and filling out mountains of administration forms…but they don’t (usually) get paid overtime. If your child’s test/essay/homework does not come back as quickly as you think it should, have some patience. If necessary, send them a courteous email inquiring about the test or homework, and be prepared to wait a few days. Believe it or not, teachers love to know you are an involved in your children’s education, but do not appreciate overbearing parents. Chill out and let them do their job.
- Your school principal and administration work hard, but usually with little thanks from parents. Most people come to them when they have complaints or concerns, but do you ever go out of your way to thank them for the hard work they do, or tell them how great your child is doing under their leadership when things are going well? And another thing…your school administrators have lives outside of school. They most likely have spouses or significant others, children, pets, church, and community responsibilities. The nerve of them to have a life, right?? Be respectful of their down time.
- Teachers and administrators are not there to spoon feed you or your kids. Pull up your big girl (or boy) panties and make an effort to get involved in what is going on at your school. Find your school calendar and add important dates to your personal family calendar, so everyone is on the same page. Read weekly emails, school bulletins, and other correspondence from the school, so you know what is going on. If there is a deadline to turn paperwork or class money in, honor it. Your school has a deadline for a reason, and most times the school does not have a lot of wiggle room to accommodate your schedule, just because you can’t get your act together. Instill a sense of responsibility in your kids at a young age, encourage them to get their own homework from teachers, remember their own lunch and school work, and keep track of tests and school events. As wacky as it sounds, be accountable and be on time.
The Office Staff
- The front office staff works as hard as any other school staff member. They juggle many responsibilities at once, often working well after you have picked up your child. They are the school organizers, cheerleaders, soothsayers and lifesavers, yet are always ready to greet you and your kids with a smile. They deserve crazy things like respect and admiration from parents, not impatience and hostility. Be nice.
- Believe it or not, your school office staff love special surprises! They don’t always get to share the treats parents bring in for teachers, so are very appreciative when someone brings in something just for them. If you spoil them with surprises such as a cup of their favorite coffee, cookies, candy, and other treats, a bouquet of flowers, or even a surprise lunch, they will be forever in your debt. Show your office staff you love them!
- Less than 10% of the parents at your school volunteer, doing 90% of the work. Outrageous isn’t it?? Volunteers work hard to make sure the school activities run smooth, and that you and your kids have fun at school events. Most parents don’t volunteer because they don’t want to be bothered, or think “someone else can do the work.” No excuses, this is preposterous! I don’t want to hear that you have a job. So do all the volunteers. I don’t want to hear that you don’t have time because neither do the existing volunteers. They find the time for the sake of the school and the kids. Get off your butt and help at your kid’s school.
- Want to hear something downright scandalous? Some of the parents who “cannot be bothered” get involved in their kid’s school seem to always be the first ones to complain. If you cannot make an attempt to volunteer at school, you have no right to complain about the job the current staff/volunteers are doing. Suggestions are always appreciated and very much welcome, but if you don’t roll up your sleeves and become a part of the solution, be quiet. We work hard enough as it is, and when you complain about what volunteers do or how we do it, we feel unappreciated, unloved, and may no longer feel like helping. Guess what? If we stop assisting, the fun school activities will also stop, because remember…you could not be “bothered”. Too bad, so sad. If you want your kids to enjoy fun activities, set aside some time to jump in and help make it happen.
- Your children will not become better students, unless you put in the time to support their efforts. You cannot lay it all on the school, you need to do your part too. Make sure you read to your kids every night. Make sure your kids are getting their homework done on time, help them study for exams, learn those hard-to-understand math concepts, and give them the tools to do their jobs as students. Give them a quiet television-free place to study, with minimal distractions. Feed them brain-healthy food, and make certain they are getting enough sleep. Preparing your kids for school is not rocket science!
- The #1 most shocking thing about your kid’s school? Most people cannot grasp the concept that in order for our schools to be better, we must to be willing to put in the money, time, and resources to help our teachers, administrators, staff, and volunteers…for the sake of our kids. Do not let it be “someone else’s problem”; work with your teachers and school to become better informed, more involved, and more compassionate, and for a wonderful partnership that will help your children succeed in the world.