Friday, March 6, 2015

Be There or Be Square: School Assemblies

School assemblies can be a great time to celebrate your kiddo! If you talk to students it means a whole lot to them to see you there. They relish the chance to be recognized for their achievements and to be appreciated for their hard work. (Don't we all?) 

The biggest tip I can give in this category is that no matter how you feel about the awards or the assemblies you need to BE THERE, as often as you can!

Your child will look for you. I have watched the happy smiles when students walk into an assembly and see their parents smiling from the back row. In contrast, I have seen the look of disappointment when they try to find you with no success.

If you cannot be there then make sure to talk to your kiddos about it ahead of time.

The second tip I have is to be enthusiastic for everyone, not just your own child. For whatever reason, some children do not have a parent there to support them. But we build our community by supporting each other! Be the parent that sits through the whole assembly, if you can.

We once had a winter program with the cafeteria filled to capacity with parents but by the time our 6th graders, the last group, performed it was near empty. Each group of parents had left as their own child was done performing and the 6th grade parents hardly ever show up! Those kids were left with a pitiful excuse for an audience. They had worked so hard to do a good job with their performance and there was no one left to appreciate it! It broke my heart!

One of my pet peeves, as a teacher in the upper grades, is that parents think it is not as important to attend these assemblies once their child gets older. I am here to tell you that thinking is wrong! An older child needs to know their parents are continuing to support them not matter what. In my own experience kids in 4th through 8th grade need the support even more. They are at a point in their life when things are starting to get confusing and knowing their parents are supporting them helps with the transition into the teenage years. 
Something is wrong with this picture. There were 180 kids at this assembly and only 14 parents. :(
  If you need to plan in advance it is possible to find out if your child is receiving an award. Just ask his/her teacher a week or so ahead of time. If you try to ask earlier the teacher might not have that information available yet. Some teachers will send home notices or make a phone call but others will not. You may have to be the one to reach out.

Working parents might find it harder to take time off in the middle of the day to visit their child's school. Don't forget that, by law (at least in California!), you have a certain number of hours each month available to take care of business for your child at school. It is typically considered unpaid leave but it is available. In California it is called the "Family-School Partnership Act". Whatever state you live in be sure to check out which laws apply to you.

Most schools have a set time during each month for assemblies. For example, my school uses the first Friday of each month and my daughter's school is the last Wednesday of each month. If you don't see a schedule be sure to call the office and ask. You might also find this information in school newsletters, classroom notices, or on bulletin boards.

What is your favorite part of student assemblies? What is your least favorite? How do you work them into your schedule?

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