So often, especially as a female, I question myself about overreacting or making a bigger deal out of something than it needs to be. When it comes to my kids’ school, I worry about being ‘that mom’. And then there’s all the talk of parents these days being overly hands on, to the point of stifling their children’s autonomy and ability to solve problems themselves. Unfortunately, all that has become the voice in the back of my mind and makes me question my instincts to intervene and advocate when problems arise in school. But what I’ve come to realize over the course of my children’s schooling is that proactively addressing issues or bringing my children’s needs to the attention of the school is not helicopter parenting. Schools and teachers welcome communication from parents. After all, how can they be expected to address a problem they don’t know exists?
There have been two recent issues involving my children at school which reassured me of the benefits of speaking up. The first was some teasing my son was experiencing. He is very sensitive and a bit overly eager to please so when he comes home with stories of kids being mean or not wanting to play with him, I always wonder if it falls into the realm of “typical kid stuff” or something more serious that needs to be addressed. Finally, when the stories kept piling up and I was hearing the same names over and over, I decided it was time to put in an inquiry. To my relief, I got a warm reception, felt listened to, and a plan was put into place. My son and I are both walking around with a little extra spring in our step. I only wish I had reached out sooner.
And then there was the hiccup we ran into with my kindergarten-age daughter. The sweet thing is an excellent student and enjoys school, but every once in a while, anxiety can get the better of her (that could be a whole other post for another day – anxious children anyone??). When I got a call from the school nurse saying that my baby was sobbing in class and just couldn’t hold it together for another moment (all in response to us discussing a POSSIBLE new pick up procedure for one day of the week), my heart broke. I rambled on to the nurse about our struggles with her anxiety while hemming and hawing over whether to pick her up early from school – I wanted my daughter to feel safe, but certainly didn’t want to create a pattern or reinforce undesired behavior. Once again, my concerns were met with a warm reception and I felt heard and valued. We did, ultimately, decide to come get her, but I knew that there was a team in place ready to tackle the larger issue at hand, should it rise again.
Teachers, administrators, nurses – these are the people I am trusting to help teach and raise my children for 7 hours of every day. It is OKAY to talk to them when something comes up. When that strong home-school partnership is in place, we can all do our jobs better. As my kids get older, it becomes more and more apparent that I can’t solve all of their problems for them (heartbreaking!). I can’t promise my son that he will never again be teased or encounter a bully. I can’t take away my daughter’s bouts of anxiety. What I can do is promise to always listen, value their concerns, and team with whoever I need to so we can work towards a solution.