My son only has just over a term of his final year of school left. So I’m coming to the end of being a parent of school children. I have been reflecting on my many years of being a school mum. If I had my time again there are many things I would do the same but probably some things that I would have done differently.
So what have we done & how would I have changed it or kept it the same?
My children both attended the small, local state school which had many children from a lower socio-economic area than us, as there was a housing commission area nearby. The local primary school was 8 houses away from our house at the time. My daughter had a grade 1 class with 17 children, so I was very happy with that.
I did occasionally consider home schooling my son during his last couple of years of Primary school but never really considered it. I do sometimes wonder what sort of difference this might have made, though on the other hand I don’t know if I would have coped.
They then went on to attend a large, private school about 20 minutes drive from our house. This was the school my husband had attended & he believed that no matter what they would be into, that they would have the opportunity to pursue it at this school. Both children moved to the school to start grade 7 as that was the start of middle school. This was before all Queenslanders started high school in grade 7. My son struggled with this move more than my daughter. However we believe that it was good for him to have a change then, rather than the just the massive change when you finish school.
No matter which school they have been at I have been involved in the school. During the early years I was a classroom helper. After a few years I joined the P&C and was involved until the end of their primary school years. At their high school I was involved in the Auxiallary until it folded & have helped some of the relevant supporter groups at specific events. I have been a tuckshop helper at both schools, so also coming to the end of my 14th year of volunteering in school tuckshops. I have also been part of a Mum’s prayer group at their high school.
During the early years of school we had a no tv rule before school. If I recall correctly that changed to no tv after school as well, except for Friday afternoons. It became harder to control screen time when they had school laptops & smart phones. We have limited their daily downloads and had their devices only connected to the internet at certain times. They rarely watch tv now but screen time is a real issue, not sure how we would have handled it if they had access to laptops, smart phones & other devices at a younger age.
I have always made my kids school lunches. Since my daughter has finished school she now makes her own lunch but I continue to make my sons lunch. As children we made our own lunches from an early age so not exactly sure why I didn’t get my children to make their own lunches. I have continued right through high school but partly because I think my son would take nothing if he had to make his own lunch. This is my last year of making lunches for my son. They have both been independently making their own breakfasts for a long time and also make their own lunches on weekends & during holidays.
As we only lived 8 houses from the primary school we generally walked to school & my children carried their own bags, apart from the first day when they had to carry all their school supplies to school. I have tried to make them responsible for their school work & school supplies.
As we lived so close to the school my daughter wanted to walk to school by herself & did from mid primary school. When we moved houses & had to cross a major road sometimes I would ride/walk with them & help them cross the major road & let them go the rest of the way by themselves. Other times we just drove. In highschool I have driven them to the school bus or to school depending on before/after school activities. To get to the school bus by themselves they would have had to walk a fair way or catch another council bus and walk. I think what we did was the best option but now when my daughter has less then a 10 minute walk to the bus to get to uni, she will often try & find excuses to be driven to the bus. She catches 2 buses to get to uni & has been quite independent in catching buses to meet her friends at shops or similar since mid high school.
Right through school we have had their homework area in a central spot in the house. When my daughter started university we set up a desk area in her room. We liked having the homework area in a central spot, particularly when they started having school laptops as we didn’t want these devices in their room. Recently my son has been doing his homework in his room more but I think we will encourage him to do his homework in the central area again.
Early on we limited after school activities to 1 thing. My daughter did ballet & my son played soccer. During primary school they both pretty much only had the one outside school activity each. When we got to high school there was so much offered at school that if became harder to limit it. My daughter wanted to do everything & in her final year of schooling she played sport in 1 term & debating in another term, along with being involved in 4 school bands & 2 school choirs. She coped with it all and I think thrives on the activity. She is still involved with a university band & works part time while studying engineering. My son on the other hand has done club & school soccer as well as 2 school bands for most of high school but only just copes. This year due to injury he withdrew from club soccer but managed to continue with school soccer. He is still in 2 bands but they have very few performances outside of school (1 of them is the school worship band for their chapel services), so he can cope.
Which of these areas have you done similar things or have you done something different as a school parent?