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How involved do i need to be at DC's primary school?

(22 Posts)
loaderloader Thu 31-Jul-14 14:12:37

DS1 starts reception in Sept. Already class reps have been appointed and so far there are 2 summer meet ups planned, another in the planning for a weekend day for all the family and talk of a parents evening out once term starts.

Will it give DS1 a better experience if I throw myself into it?

There are a lot of SAHMs with a lot of time and I expect parents are possibly more involved that is typical (although maybe this is normal?)

I love being a SAHM but I'm not great mingling with other parents. I love DS1s company and I love his friends. I have a handful of mum friends who I really enjoy spending time with but I must admit I found socialising with preschool mums not my thing. There are a lot of lovely clever women but we just didn't have that much in common.

But...I don't want to disadvantage DS by not getting involved. Obviously we will go to the summer meet ups or else his class mates will all know each other and he won't. I guess he'll enjoy it too. But is all this really necessary? It feels a bit like the mums micro-manage their kids lives/friendships. Or do you think its nice for school to have a community/family feel?

I still have a baby at home but I'm looking forward to finding an activity non-child related in my spare time.

Interested to know if anyone have any experience to share?

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Thu 31-Jul-14 14:14:35

Keep your head down.

Engage in minimal gossip.

Learn to smile vaguely.

Good luck!

wink

sezamcgregor Thu 31-Jul-14 14:17:35

As much or as little as you like.

If you want to be involved, know the teachers by their first names and be the one harassing parents to come to all of the school events throughout the year - join the PTA, be that parent.

If you want to drop your DC off in the morning, pick them up at 3 and see no more of the teacher than for parents evening and at the Christmas Play - then be that parent.

There's no blanket rule - just do what's right for you.

If you have time to give for PTA stuff, I'm sure they'd love to have your help - same for parent classroom helpers and listening to children read - but if you'd rather spend your days with your younger DC and not have to bother with PTA meetings and delegated tasks - then do that.

Either way, you're no better or worse a parent smile

HalfATankini Thu 31-Jul-14 14:18:37

Go if you fancy it. I don't think it matters that you make lots of friends for the sake of your child's friendships but ime having other parents you can check things out with is useful.

Stuff like "is it right that tomorrow they have to go dressed as a carrot?" Or "has there been a letter about the trip to the rock museum" etc. it's also handy to have people to help out in an emergency if you can't make pick up.

Pat45 Thu 31-Jul-14 14:36:55

Looking back on my experience I would approach with caution. It was over 10 years ago but I found that the parents who became heavily involved had their own vested interests. They were extremely pally with the head teacher and some other teachers who I think should have shown better judgement. It was nothing short of a clique of unhealthy adults who wanted to make themselves look superior. In my DCs school the children of these parents were favoured over the other children who parents stayed out of the politics.

Being on the outside did not mean that I didn't meet some extremely nice parents and teachers. My children had lots of friends whose parents I liked and became quite close to at the time. We were in regular contact over arrangements with the DC, parties, days out etc. I recommend that you keep a healthy distance. A lot of the alpha parents who were heavily involved in the school were very fond of boasting about their and their offspring's achievements.

Our DC are all teenagers now and believe me when their DC are out getting drunk and not bothering to get out of bed for school some of those alpha parents have suddenly gone very quiet.

I was quite frankly very relieved when my DC went to secondary school as the DC can make their own arrangements and I didn't have to spend anytime with parents I could not stand.

It was not all bad and I have lots of friends in my locality who I know from the primary school days who I am always glad to bump into.

loaderloader Thu 31-Jul-14 14:58:17

Quite honestly, I'd like to back off completely. But I've been working on my "too cool for school attitude" - DH doesn't want me to pass it on to the kids!

Pat45 I worry a little that party invites etc are more about how much mums have networked rather than children's friendships. Was certainly the case at preschool. So its good to hear your children got on fine.

iseenodust Thu 31-Jul-14 15:11:23

"Class reps have already been appointed" - this would make me run in the other direction. Class reps IME = entitled & nosey.

In reception and year 1 party invitations were pretty much whole class. Your DS will make friends. If after meeting those parents a few times you like them in their own right, then I would be more friendly. DS is going into yr6 and only once have I been on a 'class mums' night out and no thanks to 'pampered chef' type nights too. I support school by going to the plays, garden party etc

Lesleythegiraffe Thu 31-Jul-14 15:15:33

Oh dear I think I'd run a mile at this list of stuff!!

Thank goodness there are no class reps - appointed by whom?- , summer meet-ups or family days at any schools I've never been involved with.

SirChenjin Thu 31-Jul-14 15:16:50

As much or as little as you like. Personally I like the drop and run to work approach - can't be doing with the school gate cliques and the over-involved parents who can't seem to let their children breathe. In nearly 17 years of parenting 3 children I haven't found them to be disadvantaged by not having a mum or dad who positions themselves in the classroom or who organises the entire school.

Pat45 Thu 31-Jul-14 15:36:19

Loader, from memory (long time ago) pre school children don't really make friends they just seem to get on with whoever is there. As they get older primary school children make friends with children that they actually seem to like. This certainly was the case with my DC. They had friends they actively wanted to spend time with and this dictated the parents I communicated with. The whole party invitation thing just seemed to work itself out. They went to some parties and others they didn't. They were disappointed at times not to be invited but got over it quickly.

I made an effort to invite their friends around for the afternoon or take them to the playground or cinema as they got a bit older. These arrangements were done outside the school and seemed to happen organically. As I got to know some parents we could give each other a break for the afternoon. It also made sense for sharing lifts to various activities.

Essentially not being on the PTA did not prevent my DC from having a nice time at primary school.

PunkrockerGirl Thu 31-Jul-14 15:41:31

I'm with KingJoffrey on this one, OP smile

Hoppinggreen Thu 31-Jul-14 15:45:20

Class reps before you even start??
Bloody hell, I would be planning an undercover resistance group!!

Unless you are a natural at "throwing yourself into" these sorts of things, then please don't force yourself into it just because other people are.

There will be no disadvantage to your child if you're not in there every five minutes doing something.

OTOH it's good if everyone gets involved a bit, to some extent, with things that need a number of people to do them, so that it's not just the same few faces all the time. But I'd hang back at first and get the lie of the land before committing to anything, as you'll get a feel for the personalities and politics that way.

FrogStomp Thu 31-Jul-14 16:09:55

Laughing at Hoppinggreen's reply grin

loaderloader Thu 31-Jul-14 16:37:05

Yes, I was surprised its started before school has! A bit daunted.

Thanks all.

I think I'll attend events that include DS but not otherwise and more generally I'll hang back.

NewtRipley Thu 31-Jul-14 16:40:52

My advice:

Be friendly

Don't go to any meetings if you don't want to be an organiser

Offer to man a stall at the Christmas Fair

Don't criticise people who do choose to be part of the PTA

Go to all meetings about your child's education

Read to/with your child

Don't worry if everyone else seems to be doing "playdates" and your child does not want to

mumofthemonsters808 Thu 31-Jul-14 16:55:51

I was lucky, in the sense that the majority of parents at DD's school were dropping off and then rushing off to work, so there was no major interaction other than casual chit chat. DS starts school in September and I would struggle to be involved in the set up you describe, although I like chatting to other parents, I do not want to get too involved and I don't want to commit myself to arrangements I may not be able to keep. If I were you I'd hang back a little and see how things pan out.

BackforGood Thu 31-Jul-14 16:58:10

My 3 have all managed to get through the whole of Primary school and out the other side without ever having a "class rep" or ever going to a "meet up" either for parents, or for the dc. They are all pretty well adjusted, and all got invited to more than enough parties despite the fact I've never been for coffee / lunch / night out / any sort of meet up with other parents from school.

Smile, be friendly, but don't invest your whole life in it.

CheeryName Thu 31-Jul-14 17:09:20

I found infant mums much easier than pre-school mums fwiw. Just be yourself, you're a human being, so are they, it's nice to be sociable.

trinity0097 Thu 31-Jul-14 17:29:33

Most important thing is to do what the teacher asks, so if they ask you to read with your child every night, please do that!

Nonemoreblack Thu 31-Jul-14 19:30:57

I'd imagine the fact that class reps have already been appointed is just due to the fact that some parents with older children already knew the drill and got it over with. I don't think it's sinister! The fact is a lot of schools do want class reps, and therefore someone has to do it. I think it's a bit of shame when people are determined not to get involved from the start (not you personally OP), as all schools are different and so are the parents. As a teacher I value parents who are willing to help out when it's needed, because most state schools are under resourced. I also dread the overly chummy ones who are desperately eyeballing my notice board whenever they set foot in my classroom to find out info about their own/other people's child. As far as the social aspect, as a parent, I have enjoyed meeting some new friends but I'm not sure that my own friendships have particularly benefited my DS. He's quite reserved and doesn't fit in very well with the other boys, so isn't very active socially. In fact I've found that aspect really painful, trying not to be upset when women I happily chat to in the playground/have a coffee with after drop off etc still don't ask DS over for a play date...
I agree that going to the summer meet ups is a good idea though. Beyond that I'd play it by ear and see if YOU meet anyone you could imagine spending time with, not just for your DS's sake.

loaderloader Thu 31-Jul-14 22:48:06

Nonemoreblack it must be hard if they don't find socialising easy.

I'm finding the whole school scene a little claustrophobic so far. Right now it feels like the mums are starting school too but maybe i'll get a more balanced perspective once school starts. I guess I'll find out soon.

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