Bridging the Gap Between Home & School
by Regina Sayles at the Solo Mama Blog
Starting out as a single mom, I would often take a stroll down “guilt-trip alley” because I simply did not have the time to be as present as I would have liked. Seeing other parents volunteer weekly or regularly engage in PTA activities made me feel as if simply working hard to support our household wasn’t enough. I admit, I was a bit frustrated because I truly wanted to be of help in any way I could and even more importantly I wanted my son’s teachers to know that I cared. Overtime, with a little creativity, I began to figure out how to be an active parent & participate in ways that best fit with my busy schedule.
The key is to bridge the gap of communication between home and school even when you are not able to be physically present.
So how was I able to stay connected with the school as a busy single mom and what advice would I give to other moms experiencing some of the challenges I faced?
How to Stay Connected:
First, if you can’t attend important meetings try to arrange a conference call. My son is a special-needs student, which means there are ARD (Admission, Review and Dismissal) and IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings throughout the year in addition to parent/teacher sessions. In the beginning, from grades Pre-K through 3rd, I attended every meeting to ensure that he had the right supports needed and to be an advocate when he could not speak for himself.
However, as my workload increased and lifestyle changes ensued it became harder for me to be present at every meeting, so I politely asked if I could meet with the panel via conference call. At the time I didn’t know if it were doable, but to my surprise everyone was on board and was supportive of my efforts to participate even it meant doing so sitting in my car.
If possible, sign up for alerts via text from your child’s teacher(s). At times, I found it difficult to keep up with what was happening in different classrooms as my son got older and reported to three or more teachers. In order to stay better informed, I signed up for daily messaging via text from each teacher. That way if I didn’t have time to read through tons of emails, or if announcements somehow came up missing between my son’s commute from school, I’d still have a snapshot of what happened that day or what to expect in the coming weeks.
Is your child misbehaving in class?..There’s an app for that! I was so impressed when my son’s math instructor introduced me to Class Dojo which is a Behavior Management App that allows you to monitor your child’s daily behavior report with the click of a button. This tool also helps teachers as well by freeing up the time it takes to call each parent or write slips for poor behavior. I enjoy the tool (more than my son of course) and use it often to encourage learning in the classroom.
Check your child’s folder daily to ensure you are completing paperwork on time. Sometimes the simple act of reading what your child brings home and signing off on paperwork can be a great way to communicate with the teachers and staff. Timely communication shows that you are engaged and abreast of current happenings at the school. Doing so will also give teachers more time to focus on teaching and also show them that you support their efforts towards educating your child.
Regina is the founder of TheSoloMama.com, a site that offers parenting tips and other useful resources for single moms. She resides in Dallas,TX with her son Justice, who happens to be autistic. Through her experience as a single parent to a special needs child, Regina strives to offer encouragement and a supportive community through her blog. When she is not juggling parenting duties, she enjoys branding the site through social media, reading, travel, technology and exploring culinary delights.
TOP Illustration: Derivative of photo by Pete CC BY 2.0. Original photo modified with overlay by Solo Mama Blog.