New beginnings! School! And with every new beginning come expectations. Expectations of ourselves and others. It seems like expectations “should” be clear. But many times they are not, and that’s where difficulties begin and drag on… Let’s hope this post will help parents, educators and children be on the same page…
Expectations need to be explicit rather than implicit. So many times, all of us just “expect” people to know each other’s expectations. In my experience, that doesn’t happen often. Very few of us are good mind readers. School is a vitally important part of a child’s academic and social world, and the impact, positive or negative, can be long-lasting.
CHILDREN and PARENTS
Here are some questions for you, as parents, that help clarify expectations…
1. What are your expectations for your child, academically, socially?
2. Are your expectations reasonable, attainable and realistic?
3. What does your child think of your expectations?
4. What expectations does your child have of school?
5. Have you discussed your expectations with each other?
6. Have you written your expectations down?
Children do better at school when they know what you, as parents, expect AND that those expectations are reasonable.
PARENTS and SCHOOL
1. Make sure you know what the school expects of your child.
2. Make sure you know what the school expects of you, the parent.
3. Schools usually have written protocols around safety, communication with the teacher/principal/counselor, et al. If you don’t receive written protocols, ASK for them.
4. Read the protocols carefully and keep them in a safe place so you can refer to them as needed.
5. Go over school protocols with your children. Ask them to explain their understanding of the protocols. Don’t assume they know.
6. Note any ambiguities or any protocols that you want clarified.
7. When you seek to clarify expectations from the school, use examples. Using examples is a concrete way of making sense of protocols that seem abstract to you. Consider this kind of dialogue: “I’m not sure what x means. My meaning is:……. Is that your meaning as well? For example, if x happened, what would the protocol be?
8. Assume the best of the school personnel. As a former teacher and the daughter of an educator, the great majority of educators CARE about your child and you. They want to help.
9. Protocols can’t cover every situation. If you need special accommodations for your child, please let the school know IN WRITING. Copy your e-mail/letter to all concerned parties. Request a response and a meeting, if necessary.
10. Familiarize yourself with the school AND school district web-site. Expectations for educational personnel, parents and students are often posted there.
1. There are certain things schools can’t do. Accept their limitations.
2. Be pleasant and positive.
3. Share pertinent information.
4. Get to know the classroom teacher. If you can, volunteer.
5. If you have a meeting with a teacher/principal, consider taking a friend along for support.
6. When corresponding with the school, write or phone when you are calm and collected.
7. Most difficulties are the result of misinterpretations. Words mean different things to different people. Keep talking things out.
A final reminder: if you are positive about school, your children will pick up those vibes. The opposite is true, too.
All the best for a great school year!
Until next time,