“Aww Shucks…School is starting!”
“Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy…School is starting!”
- Johnny’s Mother
We all look at things from different points of view. It doesn’t mean though, that the thing we are talking about is not actually going to happen, does it? School is happening, so let’s make the best of it.
The first part of this column will deal with a very old subject—school lunches. I am not sure how many people make lunches for their children any more, but I did for many years and enjoyed it. My kid’s school did not start until nine o’clock, which gave us time to do this daily job together. We made everything from peanut butter tacos to strawberry pops—a carrot stick with a strawberry stuck on top of it. They were funny looking, but very good, believe it or not. Sure, I found out things were traded, never taken out of the bag, or thrown away.
Did you know nearly 40 percent of food produced in the United States is wasted or thrown out? I find that appalling, and I hope you do, too. What I am proposing is simply to check it out at your child’s school. Inquire about the quality of lunches and how much actual food is eaten versus thrown out. You cannot force children to eat, but you can learn how school lunches are being presented and the nutrition standards that are followed.
As school begins there are many things that intertwine to make up a day in school. Things from uniform drives to Backpack Buddies to class placement are moving targets and paths often filled with situations for students. As a parent, there are so many things to follow, we often we feel it is easier to just send our children off for their day. I urge you not to do that.
Have a good look at how your child in interacting in the classroom with other students and with the teacher. Have a good look at all grades. Do not just look at academic grades, but keep up with conduct grades and comments. Conference with the teacher. Chances are a good teacher will welcome the opportunity to speak with you, and I do not mean just when there are issues. Having been a teacher myself for years, I liked to talk to all of the parents—not just the parents of good students and also not just the parents of problem students!
I want to address a topic that has been talked to death and still not had enough said about it—bullying. Physical abuse, verbal abuse, the shove by the lockers, the nasty note left in a book, name calling, and so much more can be heartbreaking to a child. Exclusion can be simply devastating. Not being asked to a gathering, being left out of a club or group, always being chosen last, even being ignored are painful stabs through the heart to sensitive children and it seems the shy and sensitive are the most frequent targets. Watch your child carefully for signs of any of these things happening. Talk to your child frequently and regularly.
As a professional, I worked with students with learning disabilities and I can tell you that these “different” children were the most frequent victims of the cruelties of others. It seems that there is a pack mentality that makes others go for the weak among them. Doesn’t that sound horrible? Well, yes and it truly is horrible. Often times those who taunt and bully others are victims themselves, who act and strike out to return the hurts. This is a known fact and I have seen it numerous times over the years.
I know all parents today—single parent families, traditional and non-traditional families and those who are part of extended families—face trials in their busy days that were unheard of until quite recently. I get that you are up against it frequently and hustling to make it, but your children may be too. Be engaged. Take an interest. Be there. Observe. Talk. Listen. You will be so glad you did. Let me hear from you, Love, Judith