Sur­viv­ing the first year

Tips that pri­vate school par­ents need to know

The Kids Post - - Parenting - By Ju­dith Muster

Once the ink has dried on the last ad­mis­sions form, you breathe a sigh of re­lief. Then you panic. You re­al­ize you have been so pre­oc­cu­pied with ad­mis­sions, you for­got about what comes next!

Uni­forms and books

A se­lect group of schools sell manda­tory cloth­ing at their on-site store, and some in­clude text­books in their an­nual fees.

Many schools di­rect par­ents to uni­form providers for clothes and to online stores for books. Or they’ll give you an or­der form and a dead­line. Re­gard­less, none of it is cheap.

The sav­ing grace in the book and uni­form saga is the op­tion of get­ting both sec­ond-hand. Pre­vi­ously owned sales or­ga­nized by school par­ents of­ten take place at the school be­fore the year be­gins.

Af­ter-hours value

Af­ter-school ses­sions have be­come a mean­ing­ful and ben­e­fi­cial part of pro­gram­ming at many in­sti­tu­tions, and of­ten you can use the ser­vice on an ad hoc ba­sis.

Rather than just sit­ting and watch­ing as kids com­plete their work, teach­ers and su­per­vi­sors are there to pro­vide sup­port and as­sis­tance with home­work.

There are also fre­quent out­ings and or­ga­nized group ac­tiv­i­ties. You may show up at 6 p.m. to find that your child doesn’t want to leave!

Take ad­van­tage.

The cir­cle of par­ents

With few ex­cep­tions, ev­ery pri­vate school has a par­ents’ as­so­ci­a­tion, of which you’re au­to­mat­i­cally a mem­ber.

It is up to you to de­ter­mine your level of in­volve­ment, but you shouldn’t shy away. As­so­ci­a­tions par­tic­i­pate in school life by volunteering at co-cur­ric­u­lar and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties as well as by or­ga­niz­ing a va­ri­ety of com­mu­nity and fundrais­ing events, rang­ing from teacher ap­pre­ci­a­tion lunches to for­mal evenings.

The par­ents’ as­so­ci­a­tion is one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of a pri­vate school com­mu­nity and is a great way to get in­volved with­out be­ing in your child’s face.

Be re­al­is­tic

It will come as a re­lief to many par­ents to hear that the high­est pres­sure el­e­ment in pri­vate schools is scholas­tic com­pe­ti­tion.

That said, the heavy ex­pec­ta­tions and nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­cel can take their toll, and in many cases, par­ents con­trib­ute to the prob­lem by stress­ing scholas­tic achieve­ment above all else.

A par­ent’s ex­pec­ta­tions for his or her child can be very high. Some­times it can be a prob­lem if the child does not have such a strong aca­demic record.

Luck­ily, other so­cial pres­sures of pri­vate school are not what they used to be. Although it may have been com­mon 20 years ago for kids to judge one another based on parental in­come or de­mo­graphic, cul­tural changes in the GTA are mak­ing those judg­ments seem woe­fully out­dated.

Sim­ply be­ing more aware of your chil­dren’s strengths and weak­nesses can go a long way to­ward less­en­ing the pres­sure they may al­ready be feel­ing from their peers.

Have fun

No mat­ter which school you’ve se­lected, be­ing part of the prep school world takes some get­ting used to. Hav­ing re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of your child and keep­ing an open line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween your­self and the school will lead to a suc­cess­ful first year.

Be­fore long, you may even find your­self coach­ing new par­ents through their first year jit­ters.

Con­sider your­self in the club.

Par­ents can be as stressed out as stu­dents when it comes to start­ing the first year at a pri­vate school

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