Mom Message: To the Schools

Mom Message: To the Schools

I never intended to write anything like this here now that I’ve changed my blog up to supporting stories, but sometimes I need this to be my platform.

My oldest child started Kindergarten at the end of last month. It’s been a big month of changes, from having to get up earlier to having to go to school earlier to having to eat lunch with peers instead of mom and sister to missing out on his much loved quiet time. It’s been a big adjustment for me, too. I’m used to having my babies with me almost all the time. I’m used to being the one to be there for them every step of their young lives. Of course I’ve always known I would have to let him go sooner rather than later. Of course I knew I would have to hand over his care into the hands of teachers I might be lucky to get to know, but likely not know well. I’m thankful to the teacher he has, the teacher he says he likes. After all, she’s teaching him things I wouldn’t even begin to know where to start with.

This year, my son’s school was given a generous donation. To celebrate and recognize the organization, the school planned a big event. As parents, my husband and I were thrilled that his school was so blessed, especially since it meant they could update their science lab.

A few weeks ago, at Back to School, everyone was hinting about a big event, about a big donation. It seemed like a big deal. We got fliers and calls and emails about it. We were invited to attend this big event. I lost track of how many times we were told about it. Yes, yes, it’s a big deal. It’s an awesome thing for the school.

About a week and a half before the event, I heard singing in the Kindergarten yard. How cute, I thought. A week later, I saw them all gathered in the shade, practicing the same song. I also heard one teacher say they had one more day to practice before their performance. Huh? My son never mentioned a performance. The teacher never mentioned anything. The school never said anything. Maybe they were just singing a song for another classroom or something. The next day, the day before the event, in the afternoon, the teacher finally sent a message asking us to dress our kids in school colors, telling us our kids would be performing at the big event, and letting us know they would be celebrating Johnny Appleseed on Friday.

I get that teachers are busy. I understand they’re there to teach our kids and don’t need a bevy of parents buzzing around them. I understand they need us to trust them. I get that they are human and sometimes things fall through the cracks. I GET IT.

But parents are also practically begged to help out, to get involved, to show their kids they care about their education. We’re told students do better if their parents are involved. But it seems that involvement is limited to what the school deems necessary. Of course we can’t interfere with the students’ education while they’re actively trying to learn in the classroom. Of course there must be limits on what parents can do in the classroom. Of course we can’t make teachers teach our kids the way we want them to; there are simply too many students in one classroom to do that. But cutting, gluing, and sorting papers far from the classrooms just doesn’t cut it. We can get involved in our children’s education at home through more than just homework. We can help them get excited and feel supported and encouraged about the big things going on in their education.

My husband and I spoke with some of the other parents the morning of the event. Some of them hadn’t even know their child was about to perform. Many hadn’t known until the message the previous day. Many were working parents who didn’t have enough notice so they could arrange to be there. Some of them were heartbroken. Some were sad. Some were disappointed. Some were angry. As a stay at home mom, it’s easy for me to rearrange my schedule. I got lucky my husband is part of the PTA and had already committed to attending the event. Otherwise our son’s dad wouldn’t have been able to attend his very first school performance. I can only imagine how the other parents who couldn’t have gone felt.

For some of the parents, this was the first time their child was in school. It was their very first performance. If I were a working mom, it would have broken my heart to not be there for my son.

I don’t know whose fault it was that we weren’t told sooner. I just know it sounds like none of the parents in any of the Kindergarten classes had been told until the last minute. I know of at least one mom who was left in tears because she couldn’t be there. I heard other parents wonder how many kids there were who didn’t have someone there for them.

Someone on the school staff mentioned to my husband and me before the event started that, originally, it was just going to be confined to the school until they knew they had enough seats. Originally, parents weren’t even going to be invited. From that perspective, I get why we weren’t told sooner. But, from another, I still don’t understand why we weren’t told our kids were going to be performing.

Even if we weren’t going to be invited, didn’t we still deserve to know our little 5 years olds were going to be performing on a stage? Didn’t we get to know they had learned to sing a song in Hindi? I just don’t understand why we weren’t told. Someone mentioned it was possible it was because the teachers didn’t know if they could even pull it off, if the kids were even going to perform. Sure, I get it. Teaching a song and getting 5 year olds to perform is a huge, daunting task.

But the school wants us to be involved. There are so many ways to be involved. They could have told us about the performance and warned there was a chance we weren’t going to be invited. They could have sent the lyrics home so we could practice with our child. By letting us just know, we could have been excited about it with our kids. We could have asked them at pick up how it went. We could have been in the loop, in the know. Did they expect a bunch of 5 year olds with the attention span of a fly to tell us? My son would rather tell me who was being naughty that day.

And, as soon as they knew parents were going to be invited, they should have told us. They did know. They sent home a flier inviting us almost a week before (with no mention of our kids performing). As for the not enough seats? I don’t know about you, but I would have gladly stood at the back.

So, please, schools and teachers and administrators, please let us know. Tell us our kids are going to do something special even though we might not get to witness it. It would give us a chance to get excited for our kids, to encourage them, to support them. It’s a different way of being involved, but it’s how we can get more involved with our kids when we must turn their care over to someone else for several hours 5 days a week.

Maybe I’m just complaining. Maybe I’m just still so emotionally hurt and scarred. Maybe I’m still carrying around all the hurt that bled off all the parents I heard. Maybe this is just fully isolated to my son’s school and something like this has never happened before anywhere else and will never happen anywhere else. But I’m a mom who experienced it. A mom with a Kindergartener. A mom whose child just had his very first school performance and I didn’t even know until an afternoon before.

Schools, you may get our kids for many hours a week, but they are not yours. Let us parents be involved. Let us know what’s going on. Our Kindergarteners still need us, still need our support and encouragement. Education isn’t supposed to be teacher vs. parent, so let us get involved in out of the box ways. Please tell us about the important things like performances even if we won’t get to be there. I don’t want to be the hovering parent demanding to know every detail of every day, so tell me the important things my child will be involved in so I don’t turn into a hovering mom.

I think it’s terrific my son’s school received a very generous donation. I absolutely think the school had every right to celebrate and focus on it. It’s a big deal. But schools have students and students have parents. Yes, we will have to let go and encourage independence in our kids. But, for goodness sakes, our kids are 5. They still need us. They need to know we’re there, that we support them. So, please, schools, give us that.



31 thoughts on “Mom Message: To the Schools”

  • I’m sorry some parents don’t get to see their kids perform. I agree that the school needs to remember to send out announcements like that. It’s frustrating.

      • My kid’s school is pretty good about parent involvement, but it’s also a charter school that has all the parents agree to x number of volunteer hours each year. 🙂

      • That’s fantastic. My son goes to a charter school, too, but they don’t seem to want much parent involvement.

  • This is one big reason we pulled our son from private school – they never told us what was going on. But this sentence I had an issue with: “Of course we can’t interfere with the students’ education. Of course there must be limits.” Actually – their your children and you have every right to interfere in their education. Allowing the government to simply “educate” your children and not know what they are learning is dangerous to me. I was always involved with my son’s classes (until the last year when his teacher was so awful and manipulating) because I was paying for that education.

    • I probably could have been a little clearer on what I meant. I meant that parents are unlikely to be welcomed into the classroom any old time they want for however long they want. It interferes with the students who are trying to learn and the teacher trying to teach, especially if parents want to dictate how the students are taught. I’ve known former teachers who left education because parents without a background in education thought they knew how to teach a class of 20 better than the trained teacher did. So I think it would be detrimental for parents to hang out in the classroom all day just to know what their child is up to. Parents are allowed into the classroom at my son’s school, but there are limits as to when and how long. Personally, my husband and I have no problem with how his teacher teaches and what she teaches and we want to support his education without interfering with how he’s taught (we do have direct links to the teacher and school and have used them), but I think it’s absurd that I would have to lurk in the classroom just to know the important things happening in his life. Outside of the classroom, we have no problem voicing our opinions and what we like and don’t like, but we don’t want to interfere in the education of 20 or so Kindergarteners while they’re trying to learn in the classroom.

      Thanks for your comment. I wasn’t aware of how little context I put into that part. I’ll be sure to more accurately reword it.

    • Don’t worry; I understood! I see parents who are very involved and some who do little more than drop off their kids. Parents do need to be involved and do need to know what’s going on in the classroom. I just wish teachers and schools would do a better job of letting us know about the big things in our children’s lives. This was hopefully just an isolated incident where the school thought of itself first and the students and parents last.

  • Honestly, my little won’t start school until next May, but I’m sweating bullets! I intentionally blocked all news streams, because headlines about schools and what was happening in the students’ environment were sending me into crying jags (I’m talking ugly crying on steroids!) Today one slipped by about a 12 year old girl who blamed 3 little boys for holding her down and cutting off her dreadlocks. It turned into a total mess for EVERYONE involved. It was heading in a racially motivated direction, because the boys she accused were white. It caused a smear on the school’s reputation, and the boys now understand what it means to be flabbergasted. The girl made up EVERY. SINGLE. WORD! It was just a plain old lie! The article says she apologized, but all it quotes is a statement from her family. What happened to going TO the people your child hurt and having him/her actually SAY the words, “I’m SORRY”?
    For me, the seemingly ‘small’ incidents like this, which weren’t small to those lied about, is just as scary as the threat of a school shooting. Or, maybe, scarier. I mean, if kids were learning things like humility, taught not to be selfish & self-centered but to work with others rather than to step on their necks, then society would see some sort of basic improvement.
    I say all of that for his one thing. You said in your post, “I don’t want to be the hovering parent demanding to know every detail of every day, so tell me the important things my child will be involved in so I don’t turn into a hovering mom.” I understand how you meant it. ‘I’m not trying to micromanage, but my child is MY child.’
    But I’m starting to think maybe hovering or helicopter parenting is not unreasonable, given we release them into what seems to be a warzone on the daily. My mom says we live in a safe little town. I’m pretty sure the boys from the school above and their parents thought they attended a nice, safe school as well. I read about more parents every day who are realizing they can’t raise their kids like they were raised because that world does Not exist anymore.

    • I absolutely agree. The older I get, the more intolerant I see adults being. The unfortunate thing is they pass their messages on to the kids, who don’t have adult-level reasoning abilities to really sort out right from wrong. Well, not that adults tend to have it, either, but developing children are more at risk of falling for the wrong messages and internalizing them. Kids are scary. Bullying is happening and younger and younger ages. I fear children are becoming more hostile and intolerant of each other and it scares me. Teachers and schools will say their hands are tied or their too short staffed to tend to everyone and every incident. My son’t school has outright told us the amount of funding they receive is based on how many students are enrolled and, if they lose any students, they’ll be cutting teachers and staff, which means less people to take care of elementary school kids. It’s a scary thought as they’re the ones that need more oversight and guidance. I’m afraid being a hovering parent is the only way to protect our young children. I’ve known teachers who have left teaching because of hovering, demanding parents, but, in a world where we don’t feel our kids are safe for them, what else can we do. They are, after all, our children, not the school’s. I wish schools would realize that. So, cheers to being a helicopter parent. The schools may hate it, but at least our kids will be safer.

  • Aw, how sad.

    I homeschool my children, and honestly, every time I hear about schools I’m always grateful that I have that as an option. I’m one of those, “My kids are MY kids,” sorts, so sitting back and not knowing what’s going on in their lives for a few hours every day would drive me batty — especially when they’re still under 8, and everything they experience goes straight to their subconscious.

    • I’ve spent the past couple of years swinging back and forth between traditional schooling and homeschooling and every incident I don’t agree with has me swinging further towards homeschooling. The thought of homeschooling scares me, but I can’t stand not knowing what’s going on in my 5 year old’s life. He’s far too young to be independent and have so many responsibilities placed on his shoulders.

      • Gosh, it’s that easy? Most of the homeschooling moms I follow make it sound like it’s ten times more complicated. That comforts me because I’m starting to seriously think of doing it.

      • I do a lot of child-led learning, so whenever my kids ask questions like, “Where do clouds come from?” or “Why is the sun hot?” that’s when I teach them (and if I don’t know the answer, we look it up together). It doesn’t feel remotely like school, but my kids are absorbing the information surprisingly fast and asking tons of questions about everything.

  • This is such a sensitive subject, at least for me. My son was non-verbal and the public school he attended just wasn’t able to do ABA therapy with him, which worked great at home. It was so confusing for him to have two different styles of teaching.

    The public school he attended didn’t even supply him or tell me about introducing a Pecs book for him to help him communicate. I had to go through outside sources to learn about that.

    I ended up making him two Pecs books. One stayed home and the other one he used at school. Even though we had an IEP with clear instructions on including pecs to communicate with him they still did not do that.

    I witnessed this in person when I volunteered for a week and also our aid went in for a week to observe my son (she was going to a university at the time studying education). We both witnessed how they just ignored IEP instructions.

    Our aide came back so depressed at what she saw and how they just ignored my son. This was in a very small special needs classroom with several aides. a speech therapist along with an OT. They were present along with the teacher for the classroom.

    My son would have melt downs when they would switch activities because he didn’t know what was happening. My aide said she wasn’t suppose to interfere because she was an observer at first but she got up and searched through his backpack and found the Pecs book I made for the school and pulled it out.

    Once she showed my son what they were going to do using pecs cards, my son calmed down. Then he got up to go stand in line with the other kids. Our aide said when she did that, they all looked at our son and were shocked at how well that worked.

    These are the so called professionals…they couldn’t even take the time to have a simple pecs folder out to communicate with him. My son was in a cruel district. He even came home with bruises sometimes. My husband and I had no choice but to pull him out and home school him. Back then the only charter schools in our area would not accept him because of his special needs. They have ways of doing this by saying they are too full at the moment.

    If it wasn’t for outside sources to help teach me and my husband how to reach our son he would not be speaking right now. He attends college now and wants to major in Physical therapy along with science courses in plants and biology.

    I am terrible at academics but I know my son, and we had no choice but to teach him ourselves. He had one really good teacher in the early years and a great child psychologist that ended up leaving that district after we pulled our son out.

    The school psychologist, my daughter and I witnessed one of my son’s teachers abuse another child by yanking on his arm really hard when he wouldn’t stand straight in line. I was there that day for a meeting with the school principle to find out why my son was coming home with bruises.

    Even with witnesses, nothing was ever done because the teacher’s union has become it’s own government and they cover for one another. They have become too powerful for a couple parents to take on. My husband and I pulled our kids out and never looked back. We tried and they just bully. The district I am talking about is the largest school district in the state of Arizona, at least I think they were at that time. They contribute to the poor scores our state has when it comes to public education.

    Sorry about this long post, it was a very rough time for us. I kept all reports and journals from that time because no one would believe the abuse that goes on in those schools, even with witnesses.

    There are good teachers out there though. Just keep an eye on your kids, make sure they come home happy, ask them about their days. You already do that, you’re a great mom. It is not easy being a mom and having to put trust in others to watch your babies for you. You are so right, It is so important to give our children independence but we also have to stay alert to what goes on in their lives. You have every right to know that, even if it includes a small singing performance.

    • Oh, my. That sounds absolutely heartbreaking. To have a child with special needs is hard enough. To know the schools don’t even care enough is terrible. It’s so hard to let our children go, especially when so many bad things can happen in a place where they’re supposed to be safe and in the hands of people who are supposed to teach and nurture them.

  • I am just so happy my son and daughter are okay. They both went back to public school when they were teenagers. My son is 19 now so it wasn’t that long ago when he graduated from high school. My son and daughter are two years apart. The high school was in a different district so it worked out fine. They still have teachers from their teen years that they keep in touch with. My husband and I were both worried about homeschooling them in the beginning but other then private which cost too much we had no other choice with the district we were in. We did not want to move, we loved the neighborhood and area at the time. Anyway, it is hard trying to figure out the best route to go and in the end we made the right decision so we are all happy.

  • As usual, since I reached the end and read all the comments, I feel obliged a little to express my opinion. Not to inform the parents is WRONG. As simple as this. We are very lucky, here in Europe we (the parents) need to give our signatures BY LAW for literally everything, even for a simple picture. I therefore have written records (and copies) of all the school activities my two sons are passing through.

    • Yet another reason I want to move to Europe. It seems Europe is so much more progressive and thoughtful than America. Here, it seems like schools think they own the students.

  • This happened once to me and it was an awards ceremony and no parents were invited! I only saw pics from friends that I had at the school and it was a school wide awards. My daughter got one and at the time was in functional skills and I was so upset, cause at that point how many awards over the years will I get to see? Lots of parents were upset and heartbroken, the principal just decided he didn’t want the hassle of having parents attend!

    • That’s terrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you and the other parents. I hate that schools somehow feel like they’re entitled to the students and can do what they want.

  • I completely agree schools need to give more notice and not expect kids to relay messages! Honestly I would have been so frustrated! I personally have three and my last started kindergarten this year and it’s been rough for me. I worked outside the home, was a stay at home mom for 6 years and last year got a job working from home. So I’ve done it all, so I get the frustrations from all angles.. it’s rough not being able to be there. My oldest reminds me a lot of my younger twos events or what’s going on in the school. But honestly without him reminding me or relaying messages.. me and my husband would be lost.

    • I can’t imagine what it must be like to keep track of events for 3 children. It’s great that your oldest has such a good memory, but schools really could do with sending out better and more abundant notice. It’s almost as though they don’t actually want us there sometimes. A message from a 5 year old may as well be little more than gibberish sometimes as they don’t always understand what they’ll be doing. It’s frustrating to be kept on the outside when we’re entrusting our children to them.

      • I have to completely agree! The fact that schools expect kids to know. I do know my kids school sends out a peak of the week the week before and let’s us know important dates on the bottom. It’s been very helpful.

      • That’s so great that your kids’ school sends out important dates! My son’s kind of does that, but they like to change them at the last minute.

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