Sunday, September 1, 2013

Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Parenting and Public Schools Performance Improvement Plan (pt 2)

Ok. So, you did it.  You managed to relocate your family to a new city.  Now comes the next of many firsts in a new area that can be equally as much a headache as it is one of the many rewards of parenting.  The next feat to which I’m referring is getting your child off successfully for the first day of school and acclimated to a new school district.  Relocating to a different area you quickly learn that things happen differently, good or bad.  But don’t get discouraged!  Depending upon where you relocated from, your experiences could prove useful to get you on the road to becoming an active participant in your new community.  This is also an opportunity to network and build relationships that could prove valuable as you settle into your new environment.  Some suggestions that can be made include the following:

Back 2 School Night

After completing the registration process, I monitored the news, school marquees and local media eagerly anticipating the announcement of some sort of back-to-school event.  There was none.  So, my children and I arrived the first day of school totally clueless about what to expect.  I stopped one of the school staff and inquired about what we should do.  Her first comment was, “Oh, you’re new,” before she tried to give instructions about where we should go.  That’s when I realized that new families must not relocate to this area often.  Then I immediately reflected upon how smoothly things went on the first day of school at the departed school district.  Something as simple as a Back 2 School Night is an opportunity that isn’t costly and has many advantages for both newcomers and existing parents and students.  Here’s why.

1)     I moved with 3 children to navigate through this new school district.  Two of them were at one school while the other had to attend a different school.  The first immediate benefit of a Back 2 School Night held for a couple hours on a day prior to the first day of school is that parents – especially those with more than one child in the school system – would have the opportunity to tour the new school and become familiar with where their child(ren) will be.  This would be tremendously helpful to ease anxiety for the new students who could already have some nervousness about attending a new school.  In my case, I had to trust that my oldest daughter who isn’t that far in age from my youngest and attends the same school could find her way so that I could hold my youngest child’s hand and help her find her teacher and classroom. 

2)    The Back 2 School Night would ease parent anxiety, especially working parents who’ll have more confidence dropping their child(ren) off on that first day without having to take time off (if you’re a working parent) during the first morning of classes to do this.

3)    Back 2 School Night is an excellent opportunity to get those school supplies delivered as well as those annoying first of the school year forms signed that usually come home during the first week or so.  You can pick up your schedule(s), student handbook(s), course syllabus and other important info then and take the opportunity to review these things with your child prior to their first day.

4)    While children can take this opportunity to meet new faces and possibly reconnect with old classmates, parents can begin to familiarize themselves with the teachers and staff. 

5)    This is the best opportunity to get first dibs on new parents as PTO and other school support program participants.  Parents that are eager to have their child(ren) make a good first impression are more likely to volunteer their time and talent for fundraisers and school functions.

Anything that can be done to minimize anxiety and make getting off to school is definitely worth the effort.  And there is no better way to welcome newcomers into your school district than to have an organized plan for the first day of school.  If this is something that isn’t done at your child’s school, perhaps giving Back 2 School Night a try could yield some positive results that will make it a staple in the annual reconvening of your child’s school district.     

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