When my daughter started public school, I felt a bit disconnected. She spent her first three years at a small private school where I knew everyone. Things were different at public school. I could no longer visit the classroom whenever I wanted or have casual conversations with my daughter’s teachers in the hallways.
tI was finally able to make a connection with the new school by getting involved. Once I started volunteering at the school and meeting the “key” people behind those locked double-doors, I began to feel more comfortable sending her to school.
t Here are 10 people at your child’s school that dads should meet to make this school year successful for everyone:
t If you didn’t have a chance to attend the “Meet the Teacher” night at your child’s school, make a point to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. You can start by sending an email letting them know you’re interested in partnering with them for your child’s success. Be sure to attend the parent/teacher conferences so you can meet the teachers face-to-face.
2. Bus driver
t If your child rides the school bus, take her to the bus stop and get to know the bus driver. The driver is responsible for getting your child to and from school safely and it’s important to build a strong relationship with him or her. As we all know, school buses can be fraught with trouble — and being able to discuss issues with the driver will help to get them resolved quicker.
t It’s important for fathers to meet the school’s principal to understand his or her educational and discipline philosophies. You also need to know how much parental involvement the principal wants. Some principals enjoy lots of parental input, while other principals would rather have parents volunteer for specific things. Understanding how the principal operates will help you build a stronger relationship with the whole administration team.
4. Child’s best friend
t All dads should know their children’s best friends. Invite your child’s friend over for a play date or if they’re older, take them on a special outing. Friends have a huge influence on children and fathers must know the people who our children have decided to associate with.
5. Homeroom mom
t Let’s face it — many dads don’t have the time, or in some cases the inclination, to put in serious hours volunteering at their child’s school. However, the homeroom mom typically is at the school quite a bit. This person helps in the classroom and has her finger on the pulse of the school. There isn’t a better person to keep you informed of upcoming events at the school or to ask for help if you are unsure of how something is working at the school.
6. PTO president
t Anything extra that happens at your school — from fundraisers to class parties — goes through this person. If you want to help make your school a better place, ask her how you can help, then roll up your sleeves and give an hour or so reading to a class or selling T-shirts at the school store. Remember a school is only as strong as the volunteer core supporting it.
7. School nurse
t If your child suffers from allergies or other ailments, you need to get to know the school nurse. She can help manage your child’s conditions by administering medications and monitoring her throughout the day. This partner is crucial for your child’s health and well-being.
t When most of us were in school, the librarian was nearly invisible — often hidden from view in her office maintaining the onerous card catalog. Those days are gone. Today the librarian teaches lessons, brings in authors and inspires kids to love books. Find out how you can help or even check out books from your school’s library by talking to the librarian.
9. Cafeteria manager
t If your child has a food allergy, meeting the cafeteria manager is a must. In most elementary schools, based on medical need, the cafeteria can block the sale of certain foods to your child. For example, the cafeteria manager can keep your lactose intolerant child from buying milk, ice cream or even cheese sticks.
t As most of us remember, childhood can be tough — and it hasn’t gotten any easier since we were kids. There are still bullies and problems with friends, not to mention strife in the home. Most schools have a counselor on staff, who is trained to help your child cope with these and other issues. If your child is having problems at school or at home, the counselor’s door is open.
Make a note
t Your child’s school should be a resource for you and your family — a place where friendships are made, ideas are shared and minds broadened. By taking the time to get to know these key people, you will be investing in that community. Your involvement can make the difference between a school that thrives and one that is just surviving.