Whenever you start a significant relationship, you know that eventually you will need to meet the family members of your significant other, right? Outside of parents, siblings, and immediate family, there may be no other more important relationships in your child’s life than the relationships among the members of his or her Education Family.
Your child will spend at least 13 years of their first 18 years in school from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. Seven hours a day. 180 days a year. That’s likely half their waking hours, until they get to be teenagers, that is. And it’s also likely more time than your child spends interacting with you on any given weekday during the school year.
These grown-ups in the Education Family are extremely important members of your child’s world. That necessarily means they should be extremely important members of your world as well.
Many of us are content to simply know our child’s teacher, and maybe a couple of folks in the office that we run across whenever we need something from the school. Complacency sets in until something goes wrong. Then we realize that we don’t know the folks we need to know to help us solve whatever problem has arisen.
Those folks that will help us solve problems are the members of the Education Family. So it only makes sense to get to know the other members of your child’s Education Family as soon as possible, right?
Who Are These Family Members?
Granted, when your child is in elementary school, there is no more important Family member than your child’s classroom teacher. Outside of your child’s classroom teacher, these are the Family members that you ought to get to know:
- P.E. teacher
- Meal fixers (a.k.a., Lunchroom workers)
- Bus driver or Crossing guard
- Office workers, especially that grown-up who sits at the front desk
- School resource officer or other security or police personnel who work at the school
- Assistant Principal
- Other teachers that your child may have for remedial or enrichment activities
- After school day care workers if your child stays after school
If your child is in middle school or beyond, you may have lots of other teachers and coaches that are all a part of your child’s Education Family.
Every single day your child is at school, he interfaces with most all of these people. Don’t discount the impact that the Education Family has on your child’s school day. While you are at work or raising other children or busy with various pursuits, these grown-ups are the ones who control how your child’s day goes and to a large extent whether your child has a good or a bad experience at school.
Make the Time to Get to Know the Education Family
Getting to know these members of your Education Family isn’t as tough or time-consuming as it may seem. A simple hello and a handshake when you encounter them makes a great first impression. Introduce yourself first (real name, please, not “Johnny’s mom”), and then tell them who your child is. Help these members of the Family put a face with a name. It will help you know who your child is talking about when sharing the events of the school day, too.
You don’t need to give gifts or hang out at the school or even be a Room Parent to form a meaningful partnership with the members of your child’s Education Family. Nor should you expect the members of the Education Family to hang out with you or be your buddy (or even your friend on Facebook), as their time is likely stretched to the limit during the school day in the same way your day is. Just make sure the Family knows you are supporting your child’s education and that you can be counted on as a partner and member of the Family.
Few children make it through 13 years of school without challenges and struggles. We know intuitively that establishing relationships makes it easier to solve problems when they arise. Having already established a partnership with the members of your child’s Education Family should make it easier to address the tough stuff that will likely happen somewhere during the school year.
When your child sees you engage with her Education Family in a respectful and responsible way, research proves that the chance of your child being successful in school improves. Positively interacting with your child’s Education Family sends the message to your child that you are interested in his success at school and you are working together with the grown-ups at his school to make sure he is successful.
Sounds like it’s worth the bother, don’t you think?
Next up, the extended Family. You know, the ones you don’t see except at reunions and weddings. The extended Family is akin to the Central Office folks, the School Board, and the Superintendent. Yep, you need to get to know them, too.