Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Schools and Working Parents

Warning: Ranty, incoherent working parent

Being a working parent requires organisation. It requires a strong routine and precision planning of military proportions - or so I like to pretend, anyway (this is obviously where I am going wrong). Homework, reading, PE kits, water bottles... they all have their designated times and days. My neighbour (also a full-time working mother) has an impressive system of post-it notes to keep track of when cakes are due in for the fundraising café, when non-uniform day is, what the deadline is for paying for the Christmas dinner.

The system of communication by school is fairly sophisticated - we get regular "parentmail" emails, and texts in rare emergencies. It is a true godsend, without which I don't think we would be able to function properly. Have you ever tried finding a note in a child's bag when that child has been at after-school club until 5pm when that child's favourite pastime appears to be sticking random bits of paper together!?

Despite this, every now and then we are still floored by a request taped to the classroom door - a recent example; "Could all children please wear black for their assembly on Thursday". For starters, I do not believe in dressing children in black - there's plenty of time for that when they are teenagers - but that's a different subject. No, what floored me was that this note was apparently taped to the door at some point during a Monday. I say "apparently", as I had to rely on other mothers to inform me of this.

DD1 goes to breakfast and after-school club Monday to Wednesday. I only take and fetch her to and from school itself two days a week. As it was, my poor, neglected child was the only one dressed in navy blue, mainly thanks to the fact that she had the intelligence to inform me of the requirement on the morning of said assembly.

Part of me feels guilty about even posting this - I do think my daughter's school is fantastic and tries very hard - but I know other people struggle with this as well. (It also leaves me to wonder how people who do not see their children's teacher at all every week can possibly cope - and vice versa,  it must also be difficult for teachers.)

Do some schools still assume there will be a stay at home parent to manage such things, or am I being unfair?


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