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How do you find out out the unwritten rules?

(28 Posts)
duffybeatmetoit Fri 05-Oct-12 12:23:52

DD just started in YR. I'm a single parent working full time with little contact with other parents who know the ropes. There is a regular newsletter from school telling you what's happening and anything you need to do. BUT.. it doesn't tell you the full story.

As an example we were told to provide a child's shoebox filled with food for distribution to pensioners. I duly did as requested only to find out that the expectation was that I was supposed to cover the box (and preferably something bigger than a small shoebox), get DD to decorate it and add a personal message. When I queried this I was told this was what they always did!

Other than via telepathy how do you pick these things up and what events are equally likely to be poohtraps?

mellen Fri 05-Oct-12 12:25:21

Can you join the pta? Or make friends with a mum with a child higher up the school?

redskyatnight Fri 05-Oct-12 12:43:32

Yes, schools are very bad at "assuming" new parents know everything. Once your child has been in the school for a year, you will know "everything".

mellen has good advice. It's also worth mentioning to the school that more info would be useful. This may or may not help future parents. DD's school always reacts well to parental feedback and does give more targetted information. DS's school generally ignore it.

Brycie Fri 05-Oct-12 12:51:50

Costumes for plays will be another trap, nature stuff for displays, possible cooking items, dress up days, the list is endless. If you are allowed to email the teacher, do it EVERY TIME theres a query then she / he might start putting more details in the letters.

Brycie Fri 05-Oct-12 12:52:37

money for cake sales, charity days, what they're allowed to take on school trips, it goes on and on

CMOTDibbler Fri 05-Oct-12 12:53:02

TBH, when things like that happen, I just have a quiet word with the teacher to say that we needed more info/notice. I can't be doing with unwritten rules, and don't have time to find a shoebox, decorate it etc

DeWe Fri 05-Oct-12 12:53:51


I think all schools are guilty of this.

I was one of the few 2nd children's parents in dd2's form. I used to have trails of texts/questions about everything at any announcement of events. Never minded a bit-I did it to someone else when dd1 was in reception.

I did on one thing walk into the school and leave a message for the (new) head that just saying "open afternoon is at 1:30" was confusing for those parents who hadn't been there before. However I did tell her that the previous head had also done exactly the same, and I had had to ask someone. She took this on board and since then most things have a brief explanation, but sometimes the subtleties you'll only find out from another parent.

ivykaty44 Fri 05-Oct-12 12:55:38

It is best to have costumes for plays to hand as the rules are the teachers do not send the letter home until the day before the costume is needed grin

Small amount of change kept in the car in a tin ready for emergency cake sales and last minute money needed for this or that.

Brycie Fri 05-Oct-12 13:03:39

Re : costumes - you will always hear about one or two children who are in full professional get up for all the dress up days. These are the ones you hear about or notice. Everybody else has got cut off old school trousers and grandad's stinky old flat cap. This is the type you want to be or the stress will kill you.

duffybeatmetoit Fri 05-Oct-12 13:07:06

Thanks for the tips. It's getting the balance right isn't it? Not wanting to be the competitive parent that people hate but equally not putting your DC in a position where they are constantly embarrassed by your contributions.

Brycie Fri 05-Oct-12 13:14:45

Your problem is, it's reception. It's the new parents who are the keenest. Those with children further up the school are generally more blase, but then they have the stuff already and don't need to fret in the same way.

RaisinBoys Fri 05-Oct-12 13:21:42

My DS in Y5 and only now have we finally managed to get the teachers to stop leaving notes on the back of the classroom door about apparently vital stuff we're supposed to do, bring in etc! Who the heck goes to the classroom to collect Y5 children??

Oh and there are always the children who have costumes worthy of a West End performance...don't even bother competing. Just do what you can - the fact that you care to ask the question shows that your DD will be just great

Sparklingbrook Fri 05-Oct-12 13:24:57

You will be ok next year. If it's anything like the Ds's First School they did the same things every year. By Year 4 I had really wised up. I kept the Easter Bonnet in the loft for recycling the next year etc

Bombarding the school with email queries was always good. I bet I wasn't the only one.

Does the school have a decent website where you could find any more information?

MissKeithLemon Fri 05-Oct-12 13:38:28

Does your DD have an older 'buddy' at school Duffy? If she has he/she might be a good person to keep you in the loop, you could send DD in with notes for her buddy grin

duffybeatmetoit Fri 05-Oct-12 22:38:56

No older buddy that I'm aware of. I will try checking with the mother of one of the slightly older children who I bump into occasionally.

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 05-Oct-12 23:14:55

I joined the PTA as I don't live in the village and am not on the grape vine. Helps!

But schools should be better! Cryptic notes used to drive me spare.

Nowadays I'd be temped to scan the worst ones and and when, why, do they need costumes, money, closing date and sometimes simply what planet are you on?? In red and email it back.

bigbuttons Fri 05-Oct-12 23:18:10

Don't worry, it will come with time. It's just like starting a new job, think of it that way.

duffybeatmetoit Sat 06-Oct-12 22:07:50

Feeling a bit better about it. A colleague with a child at a different school got less than 24 hours notice that she was supposed to produce cakes for a coffee morning!

Catmint Sat 06-Oct-12 22:41:55

This drove us mad in reception & is no better in Y1 - the rules have changed!

sympathy, OP.

Goldenjubilee10 Sun 07-Oct-12 07:28:43

Mr Kipling makes exceedingly good cakes and, I find, they are much better for school coffee mornings/sales than mine grin

Our school letters are fairly comprehensive but can be a bit "last minute". Ds has a buzz and a woody costume and various accessories that can be put together as required. I also work full time.

PoppyWearer Sun 07-Oct-12 07:41:46

Luckily I had a bit of "training" in this sort of thing from DC1's nursery, who were forever doing dress-up days and cake sales at short notice!

However, this did not stop me falling foul of school, where she has just started, when the parents were supposed to just know the day PE kit was needed (there was no communication until after it had happened, nice!).

I have now equipped myself with the following:
- a smattering of cheap multi-purpose fancy dress (pirate/animal/book character/clown/Christmas/Halloween covered - green trousers surprisingly useful!)
- a good easy fairy cake recipe (Nigella) and some impressive-looking cake decorations. I always have some flour, eggs, butter, icing sugar, cake cases in the house, just in case.
- boxes in the loft for Easter, Halloween and Christmas. We also recycle Easter bonnets!
- definitely always have some change in the car/in your purse for cake sales, etc.

Befriending a mum or two with older DCs is a fantastic tip, has been my salvation at least a couple of times.

ImaginateMum Sun 07-Oct-12 17:48:17

Agree with Poppy.

I keep in the house:
- a selection of fancy dress
- small change
- ribbons in various colours for last minute "wear something blue" etc days. DD gets them in her hair, DS gets small piece pinned on blazer
- ditto ribbons to represent St Patrick's Day, St Andrew's Day, St David's Day, St George's day
- cornflakes, cooking chocolate, fairy cake holders for last minute cake requests
- paper plates and cling film for last minute cakes to go on
- spare boxes and / or ice cream containers
- Christmas stickers
- Easter bonnet pack (£1 from pound shop, has been in cupboard for a while - makes me feel secure!)

Our school always have book day yearly and also have a Victorian Day in Year 2 and a Greek day in Year 3. Find our if there is similar. We got two days notice for Victorian Day this year, but because I knew it would be coming I had something in hand.

ImaginateMum Sun 07-Oct-12 19:07:58

Oh, and keep hold of tat from party bags and then you'll always having the making of a jar tombola to hand...

dixiechick1975 Sun 07-Oct-12 19:08:11

Shoe boxes are also a good thing to add to the stockpile - harvest festival, xmas to go overseas for a disadvantaged child

Spotty clothing - children in need.

DD has also needed wacky socks.

Tailtwister Sun 07-Oct-12 19:45:56

This all sounds like a nightmare! DS1 is in the school nursery, but we've already had last minute requests for things. On his first day we noticed all the children apart from him had gym shoes (the black canvas type ones). There had been a list of required items sent to us, but these shoes weren't on it! Luckily we had the time to go and get them that afternoon as he had gym the following morning. Makes me wonder how we were the only ones who didn't know.

Very useful lists above. I will take note and prepare!

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