Not writing this blog for 5 years has left me with sooo much free time that I spent it writing the emails for our elementary school’s PTA. You know, the emails that get blasted out to everyone reminding you that it is crazy sock day or that the fund raiser money is due last week, or that your district is considering chopping the foreign language program in the middle school so fortheloveofpete DO SOMETHING!!? Yep. That was me. For 3 years.
My goal was that our elementary school be very well informed making the community even more amazing than it already is, if that is even possible. I wrote Star Wars themed emails, Harry Potter themed emails, and Haiku. This year I am tired and Sweet Pea is graduating high school (I know. Don’t even get me started!) so I had to concentrate on things like prom flowers and marching band senior day and graduation puns. My email themes definitely suffered.
Luckily I have someone awesome to catch the baton and the elementary school that has been a part of our family’s every day life for 13 years is in good hands.
Today I wrote my last email for them and realized that it wasn’t an email, it was a Cloud 8 post so I found my password, blew the dust off WordPress and got to work.
I may have already mentioned (a hundred times) that this is my 13th and final year at our local elementary school and while I am ready to join my youngest in moving on to what’s next, Our School has been our safe, happy place for a long time. I know it is time to go, but I am aware of all that I will be leaving behind and I will need my waterproof mascara as I wave goodbye.
I have learned a few things on my (admittedly unusually long) journey and I have been the “Old Mom” for at least the past 6 years at Our School which means that I know stuff and I simply must tell you before I forget it all.
Here are 5 things I learned from 13 years in elementary school:
1. Pace Yourself. Of course acknowledge and celebrate achievements, but if you mark the passage from preschool to kindergarten with a bronze statue, it will be tough to top that when your child graduates from college with honors. Pictures and hugs are lovely ways to mark milestones. Dinner (or dessert) out with family is a great outing to celebrate achievements. Do what feels right for your family, but be aware there is a tendency to celebrate bigger as the achievements get bigger and how much room do you have in your yard for statuary?
2. Don’t Be A Nudge. Fund raise as sparingly as possible. I know there are things that we want to buy as a school, but the cookie dough sale followed by spirit wear followed by car washes followed by 7 restaurant nights followed by 2 book fairs and pizza-kits-to-fund-a-moon-launch gets to be a bit much. If you have kids in more than one school, then double or triple that and it feels like being pecked to death by chickens. I propose cool heads and quality over quantity (see #1). Also, if you are personally overwhelmed by any particular fundraiser, then skip it. #noguilt
3. Talk To The Teacher. I tried to add up how many teachers my boys had at ARK and I couldn’t even do it. Maybe it was all of them. The best thing I ever did was to open and maintain a line of communication with them. Phone, email, Remind, text, interpretive dance, you do you but keep it going. It is way easier to manage the “Your kid seems to be setting fires” email (not made up) when I have had face-to-face meetings with the teacher already twice in the year. Want the teacher to give you and your monkey the benefit of the doubt when he doesn’t wear a coat in the winter? Or pants? Have conversations with them about your kid (he runs warm and prefers shorts) and what is happening in the classroom from day 1. Ask questions! Tell the teacher about your kid and (a little) about your family! (Obvs don’t overwhelm them or drown them in emails, they have 24 other darlings in their class.) If something your kid is telling you doesn’t add up, talk to the teacher. Sooner rather than later. They really want to know.
4. Give of Yourself. I know many parents (myself included) work during the week and that can make it tough to volunteer for library duty every Day 5 and 3. There are SO MANY ways to share your talents with the school. Check in with someone in the PTA, they always need a warm body to bake, make tape loops to hang art, or decorate something. Talk to the Librarian (you can shelve books on a pretty flexible schedule) or to your knightlet’s teacher, maybe he needs PV pipe spraypainted for a skeleton project or his class library organized. Maybe the PTA needs a math whiz to work on some tricky budget issue. There is something for everyone to do to help out.
5. Be Informed. This might be the most important. Know what is going on in your child’s class, school, in the middle schools and in the high schools, AND in the school district overall. (BTW, you can subscribe to emails from all of these places, follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!) You may not be there yet, but the decisions they are making at the middle and high school levels right now will affect your babies when they get there in a couple of years. It is hard to think so far ahead but you won’t be sorry you did.