With January comes New Years Resolutions — and report cards. As a household with two teachers and two students, report card season is a huge challenge. We adults try to eek out time to get ours written, and the wee children start worrying about receiving their own. Along with the specific timing, post New Years, many students decide to ‘try harder’ or turn over a new leaf around this time of year. I’m sure this accounts for all of the tutoring-service ads and join-this-gym offers I have seen lately, but I digress.
So, while I am a super-organized teacher, I am not — in any way, shape, or form — an organized parent. Truth be told I’m a scatter-brained, forgetful, disorganized mess when it comes to staying on top of my household. But I am trying, and it is getting better. My New Years resolution was to stay more present. Present in the lives of my kids and husband when at home, and more present in my job when I’m there. This is taking a lot of patience and planning on my part, and a lot of patience on the part of my guinea pigs…. err…. students.
In order to be present for my children at home, I need to stay on top of their schoolwork and responsibilities. While I subscribe to the email lists for both of their schools (yes, between the four of us we represent four different schools…..) I still miss ‘stuff’ if I don’t make an effort. So I check their teacher’s websites once a week, print off any schedules I need to know about, and check their planners.
Most school age children have planners these days, or a communication book of some kind. My daughter has one the school provided, geared to her age-group. My son has one we bought him, which is often bypassed and I receive a sheaf of loose papers instead. I am trying to train my own children in a routine where they come home, dig out their planner and any paperwork that needs seeing or signing, and place it on the homework station for me to see. This designates it as ‘my homework’ for later in the evening, to be completed while they are working on theirs. I have added my own basket to the homework station, which includes envelopes, checks, and a pen, so that forms and field trips can get taken care of right way.
I parallel this at school with my students. I have several kids who are ‘planner prisoners.’ These kids have to bring me their planners before they pack up at the end of the day. I can check to make sure they have copied down the homework off the blog, check for parent notes, and ensure that communication is clear between my room and home. Usually I just have to glance quickly to see that yes, the homework is there. Other times I have to jot a quick note or a request. I have some colleagues who streamline the process by printing mini labels that say ‘incomplete work,’ or ‘please sign,’ etc. This allows them to simply pull off a sticker and bam! Planners are done! I’m thinking of getting a few re-inking stamps made. Maybe one that says ‘Check the Blog,’ another that says ‘Check Website,’ and a last one that states ‘Please Book a meeting.’ (For a great entry on how to make an online calendar so parents can schedule their own appointments out of slots you choose to offer, try here.) Other students don’t need the planner check-up, so they are left to be independent. It’s a routine that some, however, really benefit from.
And, since the goal here is to retrain me along with my children, I need to do the same. Every night I need to put my ‘homework’ on the homework station. This includes bills to pay, the budget book to update, and my own planner to update. Every night I have to clear out the pile and make sure all of my homework is finished. I also need to put everything away, so that it doesn’t appear as though an office supply store has exploded in our dining room. Eventually, with a little luck, I’ll be able to get us all on track. 🙂
Now, I should go book an appointment with myself to do report cards… sigh