It is so hard. So. So. So hard to enter a new school as a parent. You’re filled with anxiety for your child that you’re trying to hide and you just want to understand what you can do to volunteer at the school and how and what things mean. Or, maybe, you are at a school where lunch ordering is computerized (or Scholastic book orders or volunteer sign ups) and you have no idea where to start or how to sign up. Perhaps you want to call the guidance counselor with a question, but you don’t even know her name or if she works 5 days a week or 3.
Parents and teachers and administrators, remember all this from your first time? Can you help to make it easier for new families?
At our school, we host a PTO Welcome Coffee. We do it on the cheap with coffee, orange juice, bagels, muffins and fruit. This year we added Cheerios for the siblings. We started just a bit after school began, giving parents enough time to get to the school, and spent the first 20 minutes allowing the parents to complete their name tags, eat, chat, meet and sign up for events. Then we brought everyone together and the PTO Chairperson (that’s me) introduced herself and the director and welcomed everyone to school.
My goal was to make everyone comfortable. To let them know that I, as well as other seasoned parents, are here to help and available to answer questions. That our’s is a warm, welcoming place. Oh, and if they are avable to get involved, all the better.
One of the goals of any school association should be to build your community. To offer it as a place that the parents feel comfortable and welcome, so that they can convey that comfort to the students. Because, in order for the students to learn successfully, they need to know that its a comofortable, safe place. And now matter how many times you tell them that, they don’t buy it until you feel it.
A welcome coffee is just one of many ways to enhance the community of your school. How does your school do it?
© 2010, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.