Some of our staff and parents will remember our son who went to Harpole Day Nursery as a baby and toddler. Now eleven (eleven!), he has just started secondary school and Scott and I have had a bit of a wake-up call. The issue is communication between school and parents.
Or rather, the lack of it.
When he started primary school, I remember having quite an indignant chat with his otherwise-lovely reception teacher about the lack of communication at that level. Having been used to personal handovers from nursery staff, it was just plain weird to see a teacher standing at the classroom door saying goodbye to her children as they trotted out independently. How strange that she didn’t come over and talk to us!
Then in the car, we were faced with a four year old who would prefer to chat about the colour of his lunchtime yogurt rather than what he’d done during the day. What activities was he enjoying? Did he settle quickly after we’d dropped him off? Had he made any friends? Had he had enough to drink? We had more questions than answers and we didn’t like it one bit.
Our Butterflies’ parents who left in the summer will no doubt be experiencing the same shocking realisation that ‘communication’ may mean nothing more than an annual Parents’ Evening and a termly achievement report. Nothing can prepare you for those school hours during which you have no idea whatsoever of your child’s wellbeing. And no one tells you that you’ll need to start checking your child’s book bag for letters on a daily basis.
Those days now seem like a pleasant dream. Soggy permission slips at the bottom of book bags would actually be cause for excitement! Now at secondary school, we have to rely on the distracted memory of our almost-teenager. If we are lucky, he may let slip that there might be a trip to France next year…or possibly the year after. And that we need to send in the money by Friday. Or was it Tuesday? He tells us with a slight frown that he’s lost his homework diary but he’s fairly sure he needs to make a castle out of balsa wood by Monday. No, that might have been the maths assessment but actually he can’t remember his school internet login anyway.
Our nursery parents sometimes tell us that they’d like more information about their child’s day and as parents ourselves, we completely get that. It’s why we set up the Facebook page and send out monthly newsletters by email and put the menu on the website. It’s why we introduced the Daily Sheets and train our staff to feedback to you personally and have pigeon holes to minimise lost letters. It’s why we say that you can call us as often as you like during the day to check on your baby or child.
And it’s the reason that, despite being an otherwise rational human being, I can’t quite understand why our son’s secondary school teachers are not making daily phone calls to me at 4pm to relay whether he’s made any friends yet or eaten something other than bread rolls for lunch.