Saturday, August 11, 2018

Month 20 of 48: BACK TO SCHOOL

Last year for Month 8, we highlighted almost every school in Flagstaff with a guest post.  You can go back on the blog and revisit this if you need some bedtime reading or are curious.  This year, we are going to keep it simple.  If you have kids, you have zero time to read a lengthy blog post. If you don’t have kids, you probably have someone in your life who won’t shut up about back to school shopping. Whoever you are, the future of our society depends on the next generation, and we all have an obligation to invest in education and care for the people we have entrusted with our future.  

We present to you….

TOP TEN WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT EDUCATORS THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF SCHOOL

1. BRING THE SUPPLIES.  We definitely spent a large share of our paychecks at Target and Staples this week. The lists may sound crazy and sometimes it feels like you are trying to hunt down the blood of a unicorn, but we guarantee that if it’s on there, there’s a purpose. If you don’t bring it in, the teacher may have to go without or buy out of his or her own pocket. If you simply can’t afford the supplies, don’t worry.  A kind teacher or administrator will make sure your child has what he or she needs. If you’re able, throw in a few extra vials of unicorn blood for someone who may be in need.  

2. ARIZONA PUBLIC SCHOOL TAX CREDIT.  Go ahead and make your 2018 donation, or  figure out a way to fit it into your budget for this year.  Information on this win-win program that the State of Arizona actually gets right is here.

3. VOLUNTEER. Here’s one immediate opportunity to help with the Teacher Supply Drive which benefits every school in Flagstaff. Sign up and get more information here.  Otherwise watch your school’s website and email for opportunities to share your talents and resources.

4. APPRECIATE THE SCHOOL FACULTY AND STAFF.  Bring in some coffee, bagels, chocolate, a note of gratitude, or really anything that YOU might like to receive as a thank you at your job. It is not very hard to make someone feel special and appreciated.  Find one small way to do that for the folks who care for and educate your children on a daily basis.  

5. BE A CHEERLEADER.  Listen, no school is perfect.  The first few weeks of school can be hard on kids, parents, and teachers.  Don’t get sucked into a negative vortex about the new teacher who moved to town and doesn’t seem to “get” the vibe at your kid’s school. When you’re at the back-to-school picnic or the first kid birthday party of the year, if you hear parents complaining, don’t engage. Be positive, and if you’re brave enough remind everyone that it’s early days and everyone deserves a fair shake. There are always two or three or four sides to a story, so take the gossip with a huge grain of salt.  The same goes for your kid who may hate her math teacher after two days or is hysterical about not having study hall with his best friend. This positivity may be the most important thing you can do to support your child’s school. 

6. FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T LET YOUR KID STAY UP ALL NIGHT EATING CRAP FOOD AND PLAYING FORTNIGHT.  That’s really it.  Force some protein and maybe a banana into their bodies and take away their electronics at a reasonable hour.  Zombie kids who can’t focus or wake up in the morning make the classroom a really unpleasant place for everyone.  Remember: children from infancy to adolescents are basically terrorists.  You are going need to look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you are good enough, strong enough AND YOU ARE THE PARENT AND IT’S OK TO SAY NO AND ENFORCE RULES.

7. GO AHEAD AND GO BACK TO TARGET AND BRING IN MORE SUPPLIES.  For real, you will make everyone’s day if you bring in a few reams of paper, some paper towels, a pack of pencils, dry erase markers, post-it notes, etc. Really anything you’re willing to throw in your shopping cart a school can put to use.  Also before you take things to Goodwill ask around if the school can use items.  Teachers and administrators also love gift cards to Target, Amazon, pet stores, Staples, bookstores, and so on.   

8. BE KIND to the teachers, administrators, support staff, carpool lady, crossing guard, the other parents, your child (even when they are being horrible), the other children (who may seem MORE horrible than yours), your spouse (even if he/she bought the wrong binder on the 10pm Target run), your best friend (who may be on a different school schedule, who may not have kids, but she still has the wine), the checkout lady at Target, your therapist, your mailman, the bartender, and all the people who might cross your path during what can be a ridiculously stressful time. Most of all.. be kind to yourself.  Often times back to school is a complete set up to feel like a loser of a parent when your kid doesn’t have the right color folder, didn’t have time to get a haircut, or their lunch consists of a box of raisins and $5 for the vending machine.  Yes.  Be kind to yourself.

9. REALLY REALLY TRY TO BE PATIENT.  It’s hard, really hard to be patient with alllll the people that are part of this kid puzzle. Starting with your child who may take 10 minutes to put on his shoes and then may get in the car only to have to go back inside 47 times for forgotten items (only to get to school with unbrushed teeth and missing the homework).  Be patient with the school teachers and staff.  Many of them have their own children they are getting back to school, have been working 15 hours a day to prepare, and are operating on fumes as they head into day one, two, and ten.  Be patient with the parent who is driving the wrong way in the carpool line (no need to channel Mr. Mom and yell out "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG") or who is blocking the doorway or who can’t stop posting on Facebook about the level of genius of their 5 year old (ok a private eye roll is acceptable, but don't post any snark). Practice patience in your daily life and see how it can lead you to a more peaceful state.  (Also this is probably my biggest challenge so I’m going to try and take my own advice). 

10. VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE.  Get in those primary ballots.  Register to vote.  Do your due diligence, read up, and be ready to vote out those who don’t care about children and education.  Find a way to get involved in the process. If you live in Flagstaff, be ready to support the FUSD budget override.  It’s time to say good-bye to Doug Ducey, Bob Thorpe, Sylvia Allen and all of our state elected officials who have put Arizona’s children last for so many years. Turn your attention to federal elections so we can swing the Washington pendulum back in favor of funding and supporting education in the United States.  Find your local activist group, your teacher union, your local democrats and get involved. If nothing else you need to make sure you vote.  

IN SUMMARY… bring the things, play nice with others, say “please” and ‘thank you” and take every opportunity to learn.  

Happy Back to School week!