As we get ready for the school year to begin I've been up to my eyes in paperwork for Harper and all the information coming home from school. I've also been thinking a lot about what this time of year used to be like for me, when I was on the other side getting ready to meet students and parents and preparing multitudes of critical information. As a teacher you meet all kinds of parents. There are they type who are really on top of everything and never miss a beat and then there are the type whose children tell you they recycle the classroom newsletter without even skimming it; and, of course, everything in between. Let's just say that I used to spend a fair amount of time reflecting on things I hoped to do, as well as those I hoped NOT to do, when I became a parent and was interacting with school professionals. I have actual notes about some of them!
Despite my best efforts, I know I'll eventually do something to annoy a teacher or make her day more difficult. Sometimes personalities just don't mesh, despite everyone's attempts to get along. For my part, I'm just going to try to be thoughtful about my interactions and hope for the best.
Here are some random things I am doing to make things easier on myself, easier on Harper's teacher (maybe), and simply try to stay organized:
1) I make photo copies of all the completed forms I send to school, especially anything that requires my signature. This is helpful for several reasons. If the forms happen to get lost filling them in again is no big deal, all the information is already right there. Many items will remain the same for when I have to fill them in again next year and I won't have to scramble around to find the information. I can remind myself, at a glance, about things I may have signed/given permission for if I question something that happens at school. This can save an embarrassing phone call or two.
2) Harper's teachers this year had a great classroom wish list prepared for us. (I would have asked for some ideas if they hadn't.) These list the kinds of things teachers don't/can't put on school supply lists, but might end up buying out of their own money if they run short. Our list is wonderfully inclusive and contains items such a stickers, dried pasta, BINGO markers, books on tape, sponges, and cupcake papers. I transfered the list onto the computer and formatted it so it would fit on a 4 X 6 card that I can carry in my purse. Then I can pull it out when I'm in the grocery store/drug store/Target and refer to it when running errands. Not that I'm going to buy supplemental classroom items every time I'm out, but you never know when you might find a really great price on something and then it's easy to check and see if that is an item on the list. You might think you'll just remember, but I had to refer to the list of nearly thirty items just now to come up with a few examples!
3) There is also a "Trash-to-Treasure" list for the preschool, full of items you might throw away or recycle that they can use in the classroom and can't necessarily just run out and buy. Things on our list include toilet paper rolls, old cell phones, empty pudding boxes, baby food jars, the fronts of greeting cards, etc. I taped this list on the inside of one of our kitchen cabinets and I'll try to refer to it before throwing out/recycling anything until I become more familiar with what's on there.
4) Have some kind of in/out system for all the paperwork that comes home from school. This is easy to do! All you really need is a 20 cent folder that you can stash somewhere in the kitchen (or wherever the "hub" is in your house). Open the folder, mark one side "keep" and the other side "return". When all those papers come home from school you can make piles for recycling (After you've read them and recorded any important information of course!), keeping, and returning. Weekly newsletters and school notices about events or schedule changes are things I would stick in the "keep" side. Permission slip forms, book orders, and picture day forms are things I would stick in the "return" side. Try to get in the habit of checking the return side in the morning (or evening, depending on when you get ready for the day ahead) and getting things back into your children's backpacks. Older children can check the folder for themselves to see if anything needs to go back. Or maybe it would work for you to clip "return" items to the front of your refrigerator? The point is, make sure there is a place where those things always go, then you won't lose them and you're less likely to forget about them. (When the "keep" side gets too full, I look through it to see if I still need to keep those items and if I think I might want to have them to revisit, I move them to a file folder.)
Maybe many of you are now banging your head against your keyboards because this is a pretty boring post and you are thinking this stuff isn't rocket science. Sorry! I'll try to lay off the advice giving for at least the next few posts.