My children go to a private school here in Colorado and have done for many years. It’s expensive, but it’s been a really good choice for us and we’ve become a part of the school community, even me as a single dad. As with most private schools, there’s a lot of parent participation in school life too, including driving on field trips, planning and organizing various events, sports judging and more.
Another thing that’s a standard part of our school life are monthly parent nights. This evening, for example, all of us parents in the second grade spent a few hours with the second grade teacher. He explained how things were going in the classroom, the current mental and emotional development of our little bundles of joy, and – of course – what parent volunteer actions were coming next.
Talking with some friends about the parent night earlier today, I realized that this is apparently not a typical occurrence for parents of school age children. Since I’ve never been the parent to a child in public school I have no reference point, so let me ask you, dear reader: if you have children in K-12, do you ever go on campus to meet with their teacher and other parents simultaneously? I realize that there are parent-teacher conferences (we have those too) but what about creating a parent community?
Sharp-eyed readers will also notice my earlier comment about being accepted into the school community “even as a single dad”. Chip on my shoulder? Not at all. In my experience, schools are generally mom territory and our culture reinforces it with TV, movies, and popular writing.
Sure, there are some single dads who are involved, but in a situation like mine, where there’s joint custody, it seems like the dad’s present for school events once in a blue moon while the mom’s omnipresent. It might be a tendency to helicopter parent which is definitely not uncommon at this particular school, but still, when you think of parents going to schools, what gender do you imagine has a greater presence?
I can remember picking up my little one at kindergarten and I’d consistently be the only dad in the room, surrounded by single moms, married moms, separated moms. Some of them wouldn’t give me the time of day — what was I doing in mom land? — but most were quite pleasant, even if the school itself couldn’t always remember that if our child created something for her parents, she needed to make two, one for my house, one for her mom’s house.
Still, I don’t want to rant about how parenting seems to be skewed female and how I’m swimming upstream sometimes to try and stay highly involved with my children and their daily school life. Oops, I just did. 🙂
I’m more interested, however, in hearing about your experience as a parent with school activities. Does your children’s school ever host lectures on child development, good sportsmanship, or any other topic aimed at you as a parent? Do you ever have parent functions or people trying to, for example, host a mother/daughter tea? I hope so. They’re pretty surprisingly fun, I have to admit.