Wednesday, February 17, 2016

School Etiquette for Parents

"Helicopter Parenting" was just beginning to be a  problem, back in 1969!  —Thousands of mothers are facing up to a child going off to school for the very first time and not knowing how to behave!

Mothers! Observe ‘School Etiquette’

Etiquette books are filled with sound rules about not digging into your hominy grits with a knife and the good ones have chapters covering wedding invitations and how much to tip the butler after a weekend at Mrs. Rich’s estate. But here we are in the first semester of the school year and what, I ask, have the noble, knowledgeable rule-givers done about that? Thousands of mothers are facing up to it for the very first time and not knowing how to behave. 

I observed some on the first day of school. Three were crying; four lurked on the lawn until recess; one brought the teacher a list entitled, Things to Remember about Paul. Why didn’t someone tell them the way to leave a child? (Shake hands with teacher with one’s right hand and, at the same time, with the left hand, give child a deft thrust into room.) 

It’s nice to know the fine points on accepting gracefully a child’s first drawing. (Holding paper carefully, turn it around and around and say, It’s so colorful! Wasn't this fun?” Do not EVER say, “What a pretty kitty!” or “Such a NICE tree,” because things are never what they seem to be.) 

Then there’s the first time the child announces he is never going to school again, although, heaven knows, nobody can really give us a rule on how to act here. (Just remember how wonderful life can be without his throwing a ball against the house and singing, “Oh! You! Pretty Chitty Bang Bang!" the livelong day. You’ll think of something.)

We need pointers on how to behave at school meetings. In theory, parents and teachers come together to discuss ways and means of improving school conditions. In reality, these meetings are usually long discussions on whether or not the fall festival money should buy new roll-away bleachers for the gym or new saw horses to block off the playground during the fall festival. A parent must go to the meetings so his child’s room can win the attendance award. 

During the meetings, do not ask about reading programs or the quality of school lunches. This marks one as inexperienced or, at the least, stupid. It would be helpful if schools would issue brochures listing jobs you can do for them throughout the year. Time, tempers and manners would he more easily controlled if one could only check off “Sell candy bars for band uniforms” or "Dance chaperone" or “Lunch room duty." Because this is not the practice at most schools, all I can tell you is to be tactful and patient when your telephone rings eight million times daily. 

Some parents would like to know the proper way of giving advice when school officials ask opinions on textbooks or teaching methods. Don’t waste time worrying about this. The problem simply never comes up. By Betty Canary, The Desert Sun, 1969

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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