What's Up With Schools Scheduling Big Events During Workdays?

The holidays haven't arrived yet, but I've already gotten an amazing gift: My son's annual school music concert is not happening in December. This means I do not have to take a day off from work to attend it during an already hectic month. That's good.

But: I will have to take a day off work to go in January, when it takes place. That's not good. 


Make no mistake: I absolutely love this concert. Max has special needs, and for years, he refused to even go into his school's auditorium because he was too afraid of the crowd. Last year, though, he sang, he danced, he was generally joyous -- and I was all sorts of blissed out. 

I just wish I hadn't had to take off the entire day from work to see it. 

When schools schedule events in the middle of a workday, those of us whose offices aren't located near our kids' schools have to either skip them or take a vacation day. My husband and I often conquer and divide, but I always regret missing out when I'm not the one there. Getting photos and video clips on your phone of your child's performance as you sit at your desk makes your heart hurt a little. 

This is not to say that teachers and other school staffers should always sacrifice their evening time for parents' sake. And obviously, some daytime activities are non-negotiable, like field trips. But I do think schools need to do a better job of accommodating working parents. We do want to be there, except those of us who get paid by the day, have particularly demanding jobs, or who can't afford to use up vacation days may not be able to make it. At a recent event at my son's school, I noticed that one student didn't have either parent there, both of whom work. He didn't seem to be bothered by this, but I felt sad for him. 

One good school strategy: Offer more timing choices. I'm a little jealous of my friend Jeannie's school, which has two holiday concert sessions: One at 8:30 a.m. and one at 1 p.m. PTA meetings are held at both 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

If nothing else, it helps to give parents plenty of advance notice about upcoming events. Getting a memo the week before, as has happened to me, isn't a whole lot of time to rework your job schedule. 

All this would be a win-win for everyone -- kids, parents, teachers. A more involved parent is always a good thing. Mainly, though, it's so important for our kids. I can still picture my parents' faces beaming at me from the audience as I performed in chorus in grade school. I want my children to have those same kinds of memories -- and lots of them.


Image via John Martin/Flickr

Read More >