School Daze

Green Mountain

I’m feeling a tad better today. It wasn’t so much the forced happy, which I didn’t have to use so much, as it was that I kept tabs on my eating much better. I wrote more in my food journal than just what I was eating…I wrote things like, “Grumpy and Hungry @ 12:42pm.” Then, two hours later, “That passed. Now just grumpy.” Somehow, that helped. At least it kept me from eating non-stop to cope with the bad mood. And since that is my biggest hurdle in weightloss: Emotional Eating, I consider it a good day.

ONTO BIGGER THINGS: My daughter starts Kindergarten in two months. KINDERGARTEN. That’s real school around here. I was not the best school parent for E, I just wasn’t as involved as I should have been. Most of it was due to my social anxieties – I was even nervous about Parent/Teacher conferences. Anything else would have KILLED me. I just couldn’t cope.

But mostly I was just a wee-bit self-absorbed to be an active school parent like I should have been. In Kindergarten I was still in college, then 1st grade we were setting into non-college life. Then, 2nd grade I got married and then commenced the years of Reproductive Hell. When he was in 5th grade, E finally became a big brother, but that added a whole new distraction. Basically, I didn’t participate in his school or even actively involve myself in his school work until he was in High School.

NOW…I have no desire to do Nikki’s homework for her, I have problems with that in theory AND in practice. (Even if I believe in it in THEORY, I’m too lazy to practice it.) But, I do want to be more involved. Volunteering with E’s theatre program has kept me so close to his life, I don’t want to miss out on that opportunity with Nikki. I don’t remember ANY of E’s teacher’s names from elementary or middle school. (Except for his 1st-grade teacher, because it’s Nikki’s name. Heh.) That’s how out of touch I was, I would like things to be different with Nikki. Will I be room Mom? Eh. I don’t know. Will I volunteer with the PTA? Eh. I don’t know. I’ll just wait and see, I guess. Our schools need tons of help, I’ll try to just be there, somewhere.

And then I really want to be more help at home. Again, not do her homework for her, but at least help or guide. At least look over it, which I’m not sure I ever did for E. I just didn’t have the energy most of the time. I feel bad about that so I’m going to try to do right by his sister to make up for it.

What about you? How involved are you as a school-parent? Do you at least look at homework at night? Do you do it for them? Do you volunteer? In what capacity? I’m excited but also SCARED AS SHIT. Because, while I’ve gotten past my social anxieties in E’s theatre program, they are all STILL THERE. I have to get passed them again for Nikki’s school. ::sigh:: Sometimes I can really relate to agoraphobics. It just takes soooo much energy to put yourself out there. I just have to remind myself of the payoff: Time with my kid. And also? Time with my kid’s friends, which is just as important.

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13 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    Our son is in a magnet school and parents are required to volunteer 20 hours per semester. Because everyone is required to do this, it’s not awkward to ask teachers if they need help or to sign up for school events. Plus, I have noticed the other parents just jump right in and do stuff; the entire school community is VERY active. So, even though we are newbies to the community (our son starts first grade this fall), we have felt welcomed and encouraged to join right in.

  2. teal says:

    Don’t be afraid its good for your kids to be involved with their school. In Johnson City I was involved with PTA and those are some of my most favorite friends. It allows you to get to know your kids friends parents, which is extremely important I think. It allows for a close group like what our parents had because we were such a small school. I am going to try to do the same at their new school but it is even bigger so that makes it harder. Good luck and definitely check the homework but you don’t have to assign extra every night ( but it won’t hurt if you do :)

    • Zoot says:

      I miss my theater parents so much over the summer, so I’m hoping I’ll build friends in the elementary school program like you have too!

  3. Amanda says:

    My situation is just a bit different regarding school. My husband works at the same elementary school my oldest attends. I work 1/2 hour away so dropping by isn’t always easy. However, I attend after school functions, field trips, etc. I also supervise the homework, pack the lunches, all that good stuff. The past couple of years, we received a folder that was sent home each night. The homework was listed and a parent had to sign it, saying it was completed. I supervise homework or help with projects, but I will not sit there and tell my child the answer to every question!

    Every teacher I have spoken with has always been ready to provide a list of things they need. Sometimes they need help in the classroom, other times they need supplies. I think once you talk to her teacher and get a feel of what is going on, you will fit right in. It will be okay!!

  4. Melizzard says:

    I got involved with the PTA after Puddin’ K year because I was very frustrated with how it had gone and felt like I needed a better handle on how the system worked and to build relationships with the administration that would foster my feeling like knew what to do if we had teacher issues again.

    FancyPants breezed through Kindergarten last year. I’m starting to think there are just some kids you have to be involved with everyday to oversee that things get done and progress is made and other that just get it done themselves with little to no supervision. I think I have one of both.

    The homework thing is hard to put your foot down for us.. We have are specific assignments sent home that cannot be done alone. Must be done with an adult helping. I think it’s their way of forcing the parent to be involved.

  5. During the school year I sit and the table and write (or knit or read) while Max is doing his homework. Just so I am physically there if he gets frustrated or stuck and needs help. I don’t ever do his homework but I will offer an example or explanation if he needs it. Unless it is division or fractions, then I say “let’s wait till your dad gets home.”

    I bet you can find a volunteer gig that will be somewhat in your comfort zone. In grades k-3, I volunteered in Max’s classroom, reading with students who needed extra help and things like that. Last year was 4th grade and I volunteered in the library, shelving books for a couple of hours each week. Good luck!

  6. cagey says:

    My first kid is entering school for the first time, so this post really resonates with me!

    I am hoping to volunteer – not sure how involved I want to be with the kids because large groups of children give me hives, but I do want to do something. So, I do plan on volunteering. I might look into the PTA thing, but large groups of bossy, domineering moms also give me hives, so we’ll see how that works out!

  7. Crystal says:

    I participated and volunteered a bit when I was still a college student and my daughter was in Head Start, however I did not once she was in public school. I did however supervise homework, and was not at all shy about sending notes to her teachers to make sure they were aware of what was going on at home if something big happened. Such as when my father had passed away, in early August, just before she started 2nd grade. She was visiting my parents at the time, and so she saw him leave for work, and he just never returned home. I had a sneaking suspicion that less than a month later, her emotions and understanding at that age of the traditions we followed to bring closure did not especially work for her, and so I sent a two page letter with her the first day of school. The teacher was amazing, read her whole file, had her tested for gifted and when she did not meet those qualifications she put her own plan into effect to keep her engaged and busy. She allowed her to be a peer helper when her other classmates were having less success with reading and added levels onto the reading program for her to continue to get to milestones. (The set program had 30 points, which my daughter had met by Christmas, so the teacher added more and included additional rewards like having lunch with her.) Without me having sent that letter, I don’t know that teacher would have been prepared to get started off so well and once she put my daughter off on the right start there was just no stopping her success that year.

    I also attended almost every open house and parent teacher conference. Usually her father and I would also attend any choir performances as well with her, but sometimes I worked in the evenings and missed a few.

    Mostly, the bare minimum I advise is supervising homework, you don’t have to pressure for the correct answer all the time, but I always pressured to make sure there was a good attempt, not just guesses and if I noticed there was something she was just not understanding I would try to go over it and see if i could help her better understand it, and if I was not able to I asked a friend to help her. I would expect given what you’ve said about NikkiZ’s overall personality she’s not likely to allow you to instruct her and you should not be discouraged by that. She may well listen more easily to LilZ or even her father on how to do her homework when she’s having trouble. That is very normal, to need a clear separation between ‘mommy’ and ‘teacher’.

    As far as finding your own peers via her classroom, such as other parents, I would expect that’s more likely when there’s a group activity like Lilz’s theater group, so if NikkiZ is going to do any sort of extra curricular activity then that’s more likely to give you that involvement.

  8. Maggie says:

    I volulnteered 1 day a week in each of my (2) son’s classes from preschool through 8th grade doing whatever the teacher needed me to do, which varied from stapling papers to working with small groups on more advanced math concepts. I got to know the teachers and the kids pretty well which was very rewarding, but didn’t get to know too many other parents. As they got to high school, volunteering was more sports related than classroom related – working concessions, booster club type of things.

  9. Swistle says:

    I have social anxiety, and managing other people’s children is not one of my strong suits. So, I figure “helping out in the classroom or on field trips” is not a good fit for me. (It helps that in our area, there are so many volunteers for such things, the teachers have to draw names out of a hat to see who “gets to” do it this time.) I AM good at things like shopping for a good deal, following through on things I say I’ll do, and keeping track of what is needed and by whom—and so I turn my helping instincts towards those areas. The teachers in our area work well with this, because they make frequent use of wish lists: almost every class memo lets parents know what supplies are running low, and I put those things on my shopping list with a note to myself about which classroom needed it. And at every parent-attendance event there are “wish cards” so a parent can grab a card (“Boggle game,” “personal CD player,” “Dixie cups,” “pipe cleaners”) and send it back in to school with that item; I take the ones other people don’t take. I’m not the Mary Poppins classroom helper; I’m the fairy godmother classroom helper.

  10. Bethany says:

    I can’t help out in my daughter’s class because of my work schedule. I am the queen of sending things in. Need tissues- done. Lysol wipes- done. Juice boxes- I’m your woman.

  11. Margie says:

    I agree with the others that there are many different kinds of ways you can help. I worked full time (my kids are all in their 20s now), but had a flexible enough schedule that I could come in now and then to help. Usually I was room mom and came with fun games (I remembered from being a girl scout and later a cub scout leader). I sent food for parties (you could become the cake pop mom!). I also liked to come in and read to the first graders every year on read-aloud day (or whatever it was called).

    I was active in PTO, and held almost all the offices at one time or another (except treasurer). My favorite was “historian,” which meant taking photos at school events (obviously not all of them, mostly the PTO-sponsored ones). I volunteered at the book fairs, and other events. I went on field trips. The elementary school years are fun ones for volunteering; I’m sure you’ll find plenty of things to do that make good use of the skills you’ve acquired, without putting you outside your comfort zone.

    I didn’t necessarily get to know all my kids’ classmates’ parents, but I met some of them, and got a better idea of who my kids’ friends were, what they were learning in school, and what the school needed. You can also help out in the office or the library — if you have time, of course.

    But the others who mentioned sending things in are right; there are lots of ways to volunteer that don’t require you coming in and being the center of attention.

    Here’s another idea… so many times they ask for a few dollars here or there for some activity. When that happens, there are kids who don’t have the money and might not get to do that. So send in a little extra $ when you can to help those less fortunate.

  12. Mary Jo says:

    I’m glad you posted this. I have two boys entering kindergarten (nope, not twins!) in the fall and my natural inclination is going to be to hang back, be my introverted self, and just do the minimum that is required. You’ve inspired me a bit to get out of that mode, and the school year hasn’t even started! Thanks!

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