As of this morning we are officially one week into the 2011-2012 school year. The jolt to our laid back summer morning routine has me wondering— How did you all fare?
For me personally, I view our coming school year as the ‘calm before the storm.’ My youngest is completing her final year of pre-school and my oldest has just begun First Grade. So, I guess you could say, I am just starting to get my feet wet in the true parent department.
This year back to school has made a small fact I seemed to have missed - apparently obvious. I am not prepared to be the parent of a school-aged child.
This is not emotions speaking, but rather a hard cold fact. I am not equipped with the knowledge of the ins and outs to help my son with his transition in to ‘full’ day school.
Okay, so … I’ve admitted my shortcoming, now I will explain.
Shortly before school started I began hearing murmurs and discussions about the ‘class lists’ and when they are posted. This conversation came at me from several angles and well, I did not get it. Again, my oldest is a first grader, so I truly have no opinions of the teacher he might be assigned to. I trust in our schools and mostly trust in my son and his ability to adapt.
But, I must admit I followed suit to what the others had planned and drove to the school site that Thursday evening so the three of us could see who his teacher would be. As we looked at the posting there was literally – nothing. Life was the same in that moment as it was 30 minutes before.
The feeling I remember most is that of the shock I felt as we approached his school. Being completely honest, I must share I did not recognize who I had become.
“When did this happen?” I thought to myself. “Who is this person, carting her kids to a school to check a class list for first grade?”
It was a life I had never envisioned so in that moment it felt a little odd, I guess.
That night I thought deeply of all the Back to School shopping frenzy happening around us. I’m a practical type (plus my kids are still young), so we don’t get caught up in this activity. We typically discuss backpack choices mid summer and put them away for August. I buy extra shorts (a bit on the big side) in late spring when shopping for summer clothes and put them aside for August. We usually fit them for sneakers or a closed toe shoe in September, which typically ensures durability through the first half of school. It’s a system I have used since my son was little and still seems to work. Storage bins of clothes are a staple in the Hammond garage. I ‘guestimate’ often and so far it has served me well.
There was just one small problem, what would he put in this backpack? Suddenly I became a bit panicked. Was there a supply list somewhere that I needed to consult? Was it on-line and if so … Then what? We are a home temporarily without a computer. So then I wondered how would we get this information?
Facebook is often my friend in such dilemmas, so I outed myself and posted the inquiry (via my iphone). Within 30 minutes I had 17 comments of friends from throughout the United States offering insight and suggestions. The recurring theme with all of my ‘local’ friends (some who happen to also be teachers) was - a backpack, first recess snack, lunch and maybe a bottled water.
Apparently for first grade, his school would have all that he would need in the classroom. Supplies would be needed at home of course, but for the backpack- not necessary. As I spoke with more parents I came to realize this is pretty common in the elementary level of school.
Teachers may provide parents with a ‘Wish list,’ of class supplies for ongoing need but typically that is it.
I wonder how many parents realize what an amazing gift this is for not only our children, but the parents.
Raised by a single mom, with a limited budget, I remember the task of back to school supply shopping and making good choices versus elaborate ones to stay on budget.
To think that our district takes this one stress off of families, has given me a true new appreciation for the town we have chosen to raise our children.
Times are tough for everyone, school districts included. This is a luxury that could be easily eliminated, but has not. For me that is very telling.
So now as I settle into this new role of ‘student mom’ and prepare to attend my first Parent Teacher Club meeting, I encourage all of you to reach out to your respective schools.
What is on your teacher’s wish list? Perhaps it is hand sanitizer, reams of paper or highlighters. Whatever the case, please inquire. Supporting our teachers translates to continued quality education for our children. The only way this amazing tradition can continue in our town is for each of us to not only embrace it, but support it.
Instead of thinking, shouldn’t the district take care of that? Think of what you would have spent had your child come home with a list. Then spend half of that estimated amount on your child’s class. It’s a win/win really. Your child will be proud to take it to class and your child’s teacher will in turn feel valued.
Pretty simple really.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.