I have a friend who missed her 21-months old very first day at school. Actually, circumstances were beyond her control. You see, she is medical doctor who was on a 24-hour call the day before. Hence, by the time she completed her shift on the D-day, it was already way past the usual 8am resumption time. It was for that reason it had been previously agreed that ‘daddy’, will have to step in to save the day, not just for their baby, but for their older child as well.

Now, this friend of mine felt really bad about being MIA during her little ones all-important mile stone. Even though I felt for her, I was surprised when she was suddenly calling me up to tell me of her plans to ‘salvage’ the situation. Yes, she was planning that when she was done from work, she will still ‘pop’ into the school and introduce/explain herself to her children’s teachers/carers. I immediately started discouraging her. As in, ‘what is your point?’ I asked her. Hadn’t her very responsible husband already done the ‘needful’ and even gone as far as explaining to the teachers that mommy had to go out to save lives? Wasn’t she going to be around during pick-up? Besides, wouldn’t the school turn her back for attempting to interrupt sessions already in progress?

Anyway, my friend ignored my advice and showed up at the school to personally explain herself to her children’s teachers. No, she was not turned back at the gate and yes, she did enjoy a brief but good discussion with the teachers, pointing out some important information about her children which her husband had missed out.

Now, sharing this story is not my way of saying that you should imitate what my friend did, if ever you are caught up in the same scenario as she. On the contrary, what I am saying is that, in this new school term, make up your mind to get involved with your child, at the school level. As in, let the school be able to put a face to you.

Why am I saying this? There are some parents who hardly ever make it into their child’s school, not to talk about his/her classroom. You know, thanks to their very busy schedules, they fall back on support systems like school buses, grandmas, after school service providers, drivers, nannies or even kind friends who offer/agree to stand in for them. That’s right, the actual parents are strangers to the teachers because communication is usually via the school’s communication booklets.

However, let’s be honest with ourselves, even though the communication booklets are great, there is nevertheless so much more power behind face-to-face communication. Imagine how seriously your child’s teacher will take both you and your child if you are there every day, following up on your child.

Notice the word follow-up? Yes, there are some parents who drop off and pick up but fail to communicate. Okay, I’m not saying you become a menace or nuisance to the already very busy teachers or perhaps try sucking up to them. What I am saying is that you build a respectful relationship whereby the teacher gets to understand that your child is your priority and you are a parent who actually cares, who supports discipline and who truly wants to know. Doing this, even in a very large class, your child is unlikely to get lost in the crowd.

Also imagine your child’s response if she knows that at the end of the day, you will be talking to her teacher about what she did or did not. She is likely to sit up because she understands that nothing ever escapes you.

Beyond these, during pick-ups, I see the way these little ones beam when their parents show up. I see even more excitement when their little classmates call out stuffs like ‘XYZ mommy’, ‘ABC daddy’. Some of these classmates even occasionally walk up to me, creating conversations. Some hand me hugs. There was even a time a group of them surrounded me and the teacher had to disperse them. When all these happen, I see the glow on my child’s face. A glow mirrored on faces of the other children who have their parents along for the ride. So, it cannot be denied that parental presence, especially at this very early stage, offers a sense of security and confidence to our children.

I know all of this is easier said than done, However, no matter how busy you are, why not try adopting the method of one of my friends. Office hours are really crazy for her. So, she does not deceive herself that she can handle both pick-ups and drop-offs. What she does is to pick one and outsource the other. So, which of the two – pick-ups or drop-offs- can you afford to accommodate? Even if this cannot be a daily ritual, perhaps something like once a week or two weeks will account for something.

Bottom line, don’t let school buses, grandmas, nannies, and what have you replace you. Don’t be a stranger in your child’s school. Hard as it is, make that attempt to put a face to your name in your child’s school.

Image courtesy of toonsteb at FreeDigitalPhotos.net