A public school in Southern California came under fire this past week when some parents publicly took issue with a bizarre discipline/respect earning policy that had students "knneeling" before the principal among others before going to class in the morning. It's almost too weird to even imagine. Why would anyone ask students to do this?
Naturally, the parents are concerned. Some are even complaining that the principal is asking to be treated like a king and demanding a sick kind of reverence that even the principal of a school doesn't deserve.
For parents, this is kind of a wakeup call that things happen to our children and in their schools that we don't know about. Whether it's discipline techniques that don't jive with our own or words they hear on the playground that we would never say, it's obvious that we cannot control everything that happens to and around our children. But we can try. Here are four ways parents can stay on top of what is happening in terms of discipline in your child's school:
1.) Ask about discipline techniques: When my daughter was headed to kindergarten, we toured no less than 25 schools. At every single one, we asked a lot of questions about how they handled acting up. Every school had a different answer, but one of the first things I found was that the WAY they answered was key. I wanted some acknowledgement of the fact that good kids sometimes do bad things and kids are going to act like kids. As long as teachers and administrators have a good handle on that, the rest seemed acceptable.
2.) Ask your kids very specific questions: If I get wind of the fact that something happened at my school and my kid is responsible, I try to find out how that was punished. Last year my (unreliable) 4-year-old told me he was getting time-outs at school. I asked his teacher. She explained they don't do "time-outs," at least not the way I was worried they did. All she did was remove him from the action and redirect him in a more private space so he could calm down. His time-out was my time away ... I felt better.
3.) If something bothers you, address it immediately: If you hear something inappropriate, don't let it slide. Bring it up right away. Call the teacher or principal. Show up at the school. Make noise. Gather allies if you can.
4.) Talk to other parents: Even if the other parents annoy you to death, they can be the best allies when dealing with something that is happening at the school. Find out how their kids were punished if ever. Find out if they are worried about anything happening at the school. Stay on top of the PTA and flyers and whatever helps keep you in the loop.
What do you do to make sure you know what is going on at school?
Image via Alisha Vargas/Flickr