Connecting with Your Child’s School
And just like that, the main aisles at Target are suddenly full of number two pencils, spiral notebooks with pictures of puppies on the covers, and boxes of Crayola crayons. Your kids will be going back to school soon, and as a single working parent, you probably feel relieved.
As your child heads back to school, you are probably ready to focus your mind back on your career. It’s easy to get distracted over the summer, and now that your child’s time will be occupied for longer sections of the day, you won’t be interrupted as much at work. But before you burn rubber after dropping off your kiddo at school on the first day, you may use this time of new beginnings to make a goal to become more tuned into your child’s academic life.
Here are some ways that single, working parents can stay connected to their children’s school.
Attend the Beginning of the Year Events
You’re exhausted at the end of a long workday, and there are a hundred things you would rather do than go to your school’s Back to School Night or Open House. But you need to go.
It’s at those beginning-of-the-year events that parents receive the most information about the school year. You’ll receive special instructions about reading logs and monthly book reports. You’ll learn about classroom allergies, and what your kid can and can’t bring as a snack. Most importantly, you will meet your child’s teacher.
Introduce Yourself to the Faculty and Staff
Perhaps you had a miserable existence during your own school career. Maybe you had some rotten teachers who made your life miserable. Talk to your therapist about it, but you don’t need to share that information with your child.
Your attitude toward school will rub off on your child. If you have a negative attitude toward teachers and learning, your child will too.
Instead, take time to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. They are college-educated professionals, and if they have been teaching over a decade, they probably have a ton of great stories.
You and your child’s teacher should work as partners throughout the year. Teachers are not your adversaries.
Your child’s teacher is not the only person you should meet. Also, take a moment to stop in the front office and introduce yourself to the principal and secretaries. The school secretaries are the real powerhouses of the school, and throughout the course of your child’s career, you will interact with them probably more than any other adult in the building. They are important people to know.
Attend at Least One Special Event
Your pool of vacation days gets depleted every year when your kiddo catches the virus of the week, and it seems as if there is a school holiday every other Friday. Even though you really shouldn’t take one more day off of work, try to attend at least one special daytime event throughout the year.
Ask your child’s teacher which event is the most important for you to attend. If you are lucky enough to have family nearby, ask them to go to some of the events that you can’t go to.
Don’t beat yourself up over this. You have a responsibility to your work, and you will not be able to go to every class party, field day, Muffins with Mom breakfast, and book fair luncheon.
There’s no need to envy stay-at-home moms for their ability to attend all of the school events. They probably envy you for having a valid excuse not to go. Seriously, women need to be kind instead of judging each other for their career choices.
Read the Emails
You get hundreds of emails a day at work, and you have to write long, complicated responses to fifty of them. I hate to break it to you, but you are going to get a ton of emails from your school as well.
Read as many of the school emails as you can. Text yourself reminders of action items you may forget about before you get home. There are only so many hours in the day, so give yourself some grace.
Send in Cookies During the Holidays
Someone wise once said, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” At the risk of sounding cynical, this is true in business, and it is true in school.
You want to have a positive relationship with the people who interact with your kids. Teachers are human. Humans like cookies. Enough said.
Having a grade-school kid is hard. Your child’s school may expect a lot from you. Put your head down and power through. Your kid will be in middle school before you know it, and at that point, neither your kid nor the school will want you around anymore.
This article was originally posted at Midlife Single Mommy.