By Cory Hanson
School functions: academic, sporting, social…they all present an opportunity for you to engage with your child’s life and connect with your school community. As a parent AND teacher, I understand better than most that time is limited, and that you will not be able to make it to everything (I’m looking at you STEM NIGHT spring 2018). But, even showing up once makes a difference, not only with your child, but with the school as well.
As a parent, I have realized how important it is to my daughter for me to show up. By attending conferences, concerts and various other school functions, I’ve learned so much about my daughter’s school life. Meeting other parents, seeing her friends that she talks about every day, seeing her not-so-friends, seeing parents of certain kids and gaining understanding of the stories she tells, talking to teachers and staff outside of the stress of a normal school day, connecting with the principal. By putting myself into the school, I no longer feel like a stranger. I know that when I call or come into the building, the staff can associate my daughter with me, and that is a great feeling.
Parents, we all want to feel that our pride and joy is being handled with the best care and attention they deserve. These extracurricular functions allow you to make yourself known to the school and put a face to the name as well as provide a voice for your sometimes voice-less child.
Using your parent capital
When my daughter was sent on the wrong school bus, I was able to leverage my presence and relationships with teachers and administrators in the school to not only remedy the situation but to clearly communicate that incidents like this are unacceptable for any child, not just my own. After listening to my daughter’s recollection of the events, I was immediately concerned and worried for other kids who were less verbal or non-verbal, or those whose physical limitations require full trust in an adult to ensure their safety.
Instead of being viewed as the crazy parent who only shows out to cause a scene (honestly, I’ve learned to be the sane parent to keep mom’s blood pressure from exploding), I had some parent capital to draw upon when voicing my concerns with the principal.
From both sides of the fence, I can tell you that teachers and administrators are more likely to take action when the complaint is coming from someone who is present and involved. Whether it is from respect, guilt, truly wanting to serve the child’s needs or simply fear of consequence, having a face and voice in your child’s education makes a world of difference.
Next time you get that invite from the school, put it on your calendar, pin it up on your fridge, try to make it a priority. Show up and you’ll see that it was worth it.
The author is a father, Milwaukee Public School graduate, and educator within the public school system. He is an advocate of Tech in the Classroom and finding innovative ways to reach today’s youth.