So: for the majority of your adult life, you’ve been a super-organised individual, famed for never forgetting a single family birthday, scheduling an entertaining and varied social calendar and rarely, if ever, being caught out by anything.
But now you’re a parent and your brain has been overwhelmed by so much new information that it’s a struggle to remember it all. Welcome to the world of being the Mum, or Dad, of a school-aged child! Don’t despair, though, for there are ways of staying organised throughout the school year.
Show an interest
First up, show an interest in what goes on at the school. It might be easier simply to wave your child off in the morning, or drop them off at the gates and race off to get on with your day, but do make an effort to immerse yourself in school life and understand what goes on outside of your child’s class.
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The old methods of school-parent communication are being phased out. No longer should a parent rely on a printed letter shoved into a child’s bookbag – paper versions are notorious for going awry and never getting into the right hands. With many schools using companies like Parentmail to send email newsletters and updates out to parents, disclosing your email address to the school and signing up to such services means you’ll receive messages on a regular basis.
You can’t burst into a staff meeting of course, but most schools have regular open assemblies, or Q&A sessions with the head teacher, or seasonal performances. Get to as many of these as possible, and you’ll quickly glean as much information about what’s going on as you can. Don’t rely on hearing an update to do with the school if the head teacher has called a meeting to discuss a school trip for later in the year – go to the meeting itself, make notes and ask questions.
Join the PTA
If you want to get as close as possible to the organisation of the school, consider joining the PTA – the Parent Teacher Association. This is usually a group of parents working in conjunction with the school to provide fundraising assistance and organise events such as Christmas fairs, summer fetes and so on. PTAs require a reasonable level of commitment from volunteers but if you want to be among the first to know about developments for the end of term disco, get involved at the planning stage!
Mark the big dates
A useful method when organising yourself for school life is to make an immediate note of the key dates of the academic year – end of terms, Christmas, Easter and summer holidays, sports day, Christmas concert performances, parents’ evenings. These dates are confirmed months in advance by schools so record them straight away. School holiday dates are crucial and knowing these allow you to plan your own holiday time; particularly vital since the rules over taking time off during the term changed last year.
If in doubt, ask: it’s not unusual these days for parents to set up chat groups within Facebook to discuss daily occurrences and events at school. It can be beneficial to get involved with one of these groups as it’s not uncommon for parents to ask each other questions about a non-uniform event planned for the next day or simply to bounce ideas around. Many a last-minute panic can be resolved by seeking the opinions of other parents in the same situation as you.
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