Too much at school?

Not homework (for once), but parent participation.

It feels like we're being asked to stay at dropoff for some kind of performance or celebration or cookie drive or fundraiser or ceremony, or to come early for one of those things, or to come on Saturday, or any number of other times. Someone I know was asked to show up with 15 dozen homemade cookies. (I don't know ANYONE–SAH or WOH or WAH–who has the time or inclination or budget to make 15 dozen cookies to donate to the school.)

Or am I just a crank?

When my kids ask me to come see something they're doing in school, I do. But a lot of the activities just seem like they make a lot of extra work for teachers and parents, both, and aren't really doing much for the kids.

Also, what about parents who can't just ask to come in late to work? There's a huge assumption not only that at least one parent (and the assumption there is that there are two parents) is at home or has a flexible enough schedule to be at school all the time, but that a parent has the financial and emotional and time resources to participate.

Or am I just a crank?

101 thoughts on “Too much at school?”

  1. you are not a crank. i have to agree whole-heartedly. i love my children more than anything in the whole world and would do anything for them. but sometimes it is just too much. and the kids couldn’t care less except the teachers turn it into a huge thing and then they are upset when mommy doesn’t show up. i am a divorced mom who works….sometimes it is just not possible to tell my boss, sorry, but for the 10th time this month i have something at the kids’ aren’t a crank….or if you are….i am too.

  2. Someone was asked for 15 dozen homemade cookies? Was that someone Mrs. Fields?Moxie, you are not a crank. These expectations are completely unreasonable. It is no wonder families are overwhelmed these days. I think that to maintain sanity, you need to say “No” like 80% of the time.

  3. 15 dozen???!!! I just made 12 dozen for a cookie exchange and it took almost a full day. And at least I got cookies back.One of the things I really like about the Montessori we’re in is that they don’t have fundraisers, etc. We pay tuition. That pretty much covers it. But I have a rant on this topic…
    …I think so many of the PTA-type volunteering is basically unnecessary. Now there are some roles that IMO are great – reading programmes, even supporting teachers in the classroom (although that’s another rant ’cause teachers should be more adequately supported formally).
    But what I think of as “holiday fluff volunteering” – oh we MUST have a party/special craft/etc for XYZ holiday – drives me insane. In.sane. I honestly think our kids would get a better education if we only permitted extremely low-key celebrations and otherwise concentrated on a classroom routine.
    This isn’t an ignorant opinion either: When I was ed-assisting (paid) in special ed I saw kids that were doing pumpkin crafts in class, french class, special ed, reading circle, and afterschool programme. I mean…seriously? How many times do you have to colour a round thing orange?
    Fundraising is a whole other ball of wax. We have less of it in most areas of Toronto than it seems in the States (although there are a couple of schools that are legendary for their fundraising drives). But I find it problematic. If we spent half the effort on political lobbying for properly funded schools perhaps -all- schools could have the facilities they need.
    And some of the wants, while really great ideas perhaps could be left alone while we hash out the basics. I love community gardens, really I do, but I would prefer every.single. grade 3 student be able to read to the level s/he needs to to tackle grade 4 work than that everyone connect with vegetables. And yes I know obesity is an issue.
    Eek this was a book, sorry.

  4. As a SAH parent who spends many hours of volunteer time at her kids’ school, I agree with you. They are asking too much. Until I go back to work, I feel some obligation to help run the volunteer side of our school. I don’t expect working parents to chip in as much time as I do, and I’m always surprised to see some of them at activities at all.Having also been a teacher, I will say that kids usually love having their parents come to school and one or two performances a year is fine- perhaps the school should be sure at least one is in the pm and one am. As for the rest, I’m not sure who is trying to look good. Some parents may encourage this, or it could be principal or teacher led.
    I’d suggest asking your children which activities are important to them and see if they can help you prioritize your visits, explaining that you will only come to the Most Special Events– but they get to help you choose.
    And 15 dozen cookies? Ha! Not by me!

  5. How many Oreos are in a 1-lb package? That would be my answer, and I do bake, but I’m not just giving those babies away.Anyway, I’m a FT working mom, and I volunteer at the school usuing my vacation time. I got so annoyed by them asking for volunteers on Sunday night for Tuesday morning (hello…I have to schedule that vacation time before the next week’s schedule goes out…and don’t SAH parents have to arrage child care for their smaller ones too?) that I emailed the coordinator and said sign me up to volunteer these two Tuesdays over the next couple of weeks and I will do whatever volunteer activity you have.
    And I also asked our PTO to ask for money. Do a cash drive. (Some) people will give it. And stop asking us to buy things. I would feel a whole lot better just giving them $20 than buying $40 worth of junk food that I don’t need/want so they can get the $20 cut.

  6. I have three kids (8, 7 & 3) and I couldn’t agree with you more! My three-year-old is in a preschool class for kids ages 2 1/2-3. He goes two days a week for 2 hours. So far this year, they have had THREE holiday celebrations. Except that the Thanksgiving “feast” was canceled because it fell on a snow day. The teacher asked me what they were going to do and I made a comment like, “Sigh with relief!” and I hurt her feelings. She had spent hours making cute little turkey hats and things for this celebration!I just don’t get it. When kids have celebrated Thanksgiving three times by the time the “real” day arrives, it diminishes the significance of the holiday. And besides, three-year-olds do not care about turkey hats and they do not enjoy performing songs in front of a bunch of parents with cameras.
    Yesterday they had a Christmas party, which involved a book exchange. Do parents really need yet another gift to buy at this time of year? Again, the kids do not care. If there was no book exchange, they would be none the wiser!
    I will not even get started on the teeny tiny snowflakes my second grader’s teacher asked me to cut out of tissue paper for a “very special” craft. No craft is special enough.

  7. You’re not a crank; you’re a realist! If American schools prioritized more long-term impactful things like say oh, academics, for instance, instead of these craptastic Hallmark-esque holiday celebrations, maybe we wouldn’t have such damning statistics:”Among 30 developed countries, The US is ranked 25th in math, and 21st in science. When the comparison is restricted to the top 5 percent of students, the US is ranked last.”
    (Source: “Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Failing Public Schools” edited by Karl Weber. Very eye-opening book; haven’t yet seen the film.)
    I seriously wonder how these vaunted “norms” about cookie baking, and class parties, and imagined uber-parents with unlimited resources of time and money ever became so entrenched in the US public schools. From what my friends all over the nation have been telling me, this dynamic happens pretty everywhere across the nation.

  8. Our school in general does a good job of treading that line: inviting parent involvement but not asking for too much. I am in general a crank about people and organizations that assume all families have a stay-at-home parent (still trying to pay my Thanksgiving catsitter, who just emailed me asking if I would be home between 2-3pm today – what part of “I work” is she missing? – I’m going to mail her a check) and also a crank about Too Many Crafts. My main goal as a Girl Scout Leader is that our activities not produce anything tangible to take home. My house is so full of crafts.

  9. You are not a crank. I totally agree! I am so glad my state no longer allows homemade treats. Some people have complained loudly, but honestly, do I want my kids eating something out of some stranger’s kitchen? And do I want to do all that baking?

  10. I have such strong feeling about this that I’m going to keep them to myself. Needless to say, I don’t think you are a crank, Moxie. Or maybe, I’m just a crankier crank than you. 🙂

  11. I am a SAHM who has time for this sort of thing and I still don’t think it’s right for parents to be expected to be more involved than the basic level. Not only do I not want to spend all of my time baking or hanging around school, I also don’t think it does our kids good to be ever present, never allowing them to be without us to grow independently.And as for the 15 dozen cookies, that’s just excessive gluttony and waste. It’s just one more way that our kids have been Disney-fied.
    Now who’s the crank?

  12. I was purely exhausted by the whole concept of school as it exists in America in the late 20th/early 21st century.Do the next generation a favor, young mommies, and just say no! To the stuff that is purely a waste of time – and much of it was – anyway. Someone explain to me why it makes more sense to force your neighbors to buy bad candy at an outrageous price to net a small portion of that for the school and a big portion for some out-of-town company? Never got that one.
    Going to see your kids perform is a whole ‘nother story.

  13. Not a crank. Not. My DH and I constantly look at each other while reading the 20th announcement coming home in our 1st grade DD’s backpack asking, “Why do they assume we don’t work?” At least our DD’s school offers the option of just paying the PTA $100 at the beginning of the year to be opted out of the wrapping paper, cookie dough, and brownie sales.

  14. Oh my goodness. I agree so much. I was feeling kind of bad about skipping the daycare potluck last week, but it seemed ridiculous. When would I have time to make/buy food between leaving work and getting to daycare, and besides, I went to one of these things before and it’s just a disaster with parents not really making eye contact with each other, but instead having overly enthusiastic interactions with their bewildered toddlers. Like they’re trying to show off how much fun they have spending time with their kids! All this in a place with no adult-sized chairs. Thanks, we’ll skip it. Instead, we spent a lovely evening at home eating chili and putting ornaments on the tree.

  15. I am so not looking forward to this aspect of having school age kids. My husband and I both work outside the home. Or, at least we did until I got laid off, and I’m doing everything I can to make that a temporary change! Sure, we both have professions that tend to allow flexible schedule, but the work wills till need to get done if we skip out for a school event- so we’ll have to do it at night.Our entire school system is set up for a mode of family life that barely exists anymore. Very few kids need to go home and work on the farm, particularly in my urban school district. And we can’t have a reasonable conversation about how to reform it, because it gets all caught up in deep cultural issues about working women, among other things.
    Anyway, I don’t think you are a crank. My day care makes pretty reasonable requests- there is a Halloween parade and an Ice Cream Social each year, and that is it. So I don’t know how I’ll respond when requests that I think are unreasonable come in. But I suspect I would laugh in the fact of anyone who asked me to provide 15 dozen homemade cookies.

  16. I think the problem is that we’re all involved in too many groups now, and every single one has a holiday event. Like, maybe before only elementary schools and workplaces had holiday parties. Now, it’s like you have to have the soccer party, the library party, the preschool party, the church party, etc. And why does the gym daycare have to have several holiday events?I’m not totally anti-holiday, and I don’t think kids should have all academics, all the time at school. I think it’s important to teach kids about holidays and have them socialize a little. But does it all have to be such a big deal? When I went to my kid’s preschool Halloween party, not only did they have food at the party and goody bags from the teachers, there were also random students who brought goody bags for the the whole class. WHY?! And then the next week when the teachers offered my kid a bribe from the “treasure chest” for putting on his coat, the little sh*t said, “I don’t need any more treasures. I got those goody bags last week.”

  17. My oldest is 4 and is at a private preschool 4 afternoons a week. And even though it’s private, they still regularly do fundraisers and ask for parental chaperons and such. And I don’t mind that they ask! I really don’t. (Well, maybe a little with the stupid fundraiser cookie dough.) But I have a 21mo and a 4mo. I can’t chaperon, it would be horrible for everyone involved. But then my daughter comes back saying that she was the only one whose mom didn’t come along. And I know it’s only going to get WAY worse when she is in public kindergarten (Chicago Public Schools at that) next year. And it really gets me annoyed that anytime people start talking school reform, you get all the teachers and others who start talking about how the reason so many public schools suck is because of the lack of parental involvement in poor areas. Well gee whilikers, maybe the schools are making is IMPOSSIBLE for someone who works? And not even very easy for a relatively well-off SAHM, honestly, what with the two other children who aren’t in school yet! It’s more classist than sexist though it is both. It bothers me on a lot of really deep levels, from the fundraisers that make you guilt your friends into buying crap to me being the only parent who can’t ride a bus to a pumpkin patch. I don’t know what the fix is, but BOY you are not alone in this.

  18. I’ve been wanting to bring this up for ages but haven’t figured out how to do it tactfully whenever a Parent Association meeting comes around (which they thankfully do over the phone in the evening, but it’s crazy trying to speak to 20+ people on a conference line). Remembering my own elementary school days, I don’t feel like parents were EVER around at school, or perhaps only as escorts on field trips. My son’s at a small progressive NYC school where community support is very strong and I love this, but it is pretty much expected that we show up every now and then to re-shelve books or dust classrooms, or wash art aprons, or do our own creative project, or whatever. It all stems from the extreme lack of funding in the public schools, I know, but also a deeper feeling that parents need to be at school for kids to learn (or something). Meanwhile, I have this very strong differing opinion that kids need their space away from parents– time to develop on their own without us hovering over them. For crying out loud I do enough hovering during off-school hours.

  19. Our elementary school is pretty good about the sales – the PTA asks for a donation per family at the beginning of the year and other than a couple fundraisers for the fifth grade’s big end of elementary school trip, that’s it.At back to school night, my daughter’s teacher asked parents to fill out a form if they were willing/interested in volunteering in the classroom and to indicate availability. I liked that approach and thought it was reasonable (in the absence of appropriate funding/staffing/etc.).
    HOWEVER, the do-gooding drives are driving me batty. At least once per week, I get a note home in my first grader’s backpack asking me to donate this or that to whatever. It’s all good and it’s all worthwhile, but it’s too much. I’m frazzled trying to keep track of all the places I’m supposed to donate toys, coats, books, turkeys, canned food, etc. Maybe it’s because I already planned to donate all of those things through our church, but I feel like I grinch if I don’t participate, and here I am overwhelmed.
    On the whole, I’m glad we’re in a giving community with lots of activities (International night, holiday celebrations, etc.), but I definitely think there needs to be some limit (and I work part time from home, so I should, in theory, have more time available that most, right???).
    Rant over. Sorry for the novel.

  20. I was just about to vent on twitter about the amount of holiday craft projects this year! Sheesh! I had to go get a reusable shopping bag from my car to bring home the 4 year old’s preschool party crafts. There were 5 craft projects for the kids to do that last hour of class today. Do you know what they would rather do? Maybe 1 and then play legos or in the water table. Especially, my 4 year old son who hates crafts!My daughter made not 1, but 2 ornaments at girl scouts last night and another one at school that she is giving to grandma.
    How am I supposed to 1) store all this stuff or 2)get rid of it without them knowing?
    Luckily, our school does not ask a lot. There is 1 fundraiser and jump rope for heart and my daughter’s teacher is actually pretty low key when it comes to parties.

  21. Not a crank. I’m a SAHM with a little one and zero childcare so going in to do things, though I’d love to, I can’t. Our school is pretty good about not asking for too much, and they also don’t allow homemade treats (which I would totally do because store-bought stuff has ingredients that my child reacts to, yet he still gets them all the time).I also want to know WTH is up with the movies in class? End of year? movies. Too cold outside for recess? movies. Seriously, we didn’t watch screens when I was a kid. Pisses me off.

  22. Yikes! Back when I was in school, there were always two or three moms who did everything, were pretty much holiday obsessed, birthday party making, baking wizards. Now they expect this out of everyone?I remember in second grade, my teacher gave our party away to the class next door. You should’ve seen this PTA mom’s face- “I baked all those cupcakes and you’re doing WHAAATTT?” My teacher said none of us deserved the party because we couldn’t spell right.
    My goodness gracious, is this a recent development in our culture? Being all up in your kid’s education is very wise in some families. My parents were so hands on, helping me with homework and projects, but they never baked no cookies or came to my school at night. I guess I will be a crank when the time comes.

  23. One of my friends is a SAHM with her eldest just starting kindergarten. On the first day of school, my friend decided to join anything possible–bake sales, helping out in class, fundraisers, you name it. She wanted to be part of school life, and be near her child as much as possible. She’d bring the youngest along and join the other parent volunteers.A month later, the principal informed these volunteers that they were no longer allowed to bring their younger kids with them. So these SAH parents–who, mostly, were staying at home because they still had young kids–had to find babysitters. So they could volunteer. At a school that needed help.

  24. I’m 100% in agreement with Kelly.My daughter is in public school, which is poorly funded. It’s so poorly funded, that she has a half-day every Tuesday. And they let out early every day this week.
    Their Christmas program was excruciating. I’m pregnant with #3 and my daughter’s in a program at a different school than our local one, so I gave myself a pass this year. (Last year daughter was in public preK for 2 hours 4 days a week, and it was a tremendous amount of work).
    4 and 5 year-olds don’t need day-long field trips! That’s what weekends and vacations are for. I feel like it’s all really intrusive into parenting. Let ME take care of our holiday celebrations. Let ME teach my daughter about dental hygiene, instead of making all the parents come to a talk by a dentist.
    And what are the teachers doing?
    I feel like the odd man out, too, because the other parents aren’t standing around, rolling their eyeballs like I am. They all bring cameras.
    And PLEASE stop feeding my child all this store-bought sugary crap all the time. That’s why I pack her a healthy lunch! I don’t want her to eat a gazillion cookies every time it’s a commercial holiday.
    I wish some teachers would come read this. I realize some parents aren’t as involved in their kids lives for whatever reason. Not all of us are SAHMs (although I am right now), but we still engage our children. Those other parents that don’t? They’re not going to come to the parties, either.
    Great post, Moxie. I was feeling really irritated about all of this today. The whole month of December is a party! Teach them something. Let us teach them how we celebrate holidays.

  25. I totally agree- and I taught 1st grade for 10 years! The teachers usually hate all the extra stuff as well, since it means more time at school and less time devoted to curriculum and instruction planning. We’d rather (gasp!) be spending that extra time with our own families and our own interests.

  26. That reminds me. I don’t volunteer too much because I WOH, but I do have a nanny. There were a couple of parents who said they would volunteer at the school but they needed childcare for their youngers (or their half-day kindergarteners). So, I checked with my nanny to make sure she was OK with it, and then I volunteered to have my nanny watch someone else’s kindergartener or preschooler for an hour or two once a month. But it boggles the mind that someone would schedule a parent to volunteer at the school in the afternoon when he/she has a half-day AM kindergartener (and you’re not allowed to have said kindergartener with you while you volunteer).

  27. I feel lucky that our oldest is in the school she’s attending. It’s a Title One school, which mandates a certain amount of parental involvement, but its administrators have a lot of good sense about it. Most events are held once during the day and once in the evening, and volunteering is encouraged at any time, even if you can only drop in for an hour. Our PTO is really good, too, not too overbearing and willing to try less traditional things like a school festival with a silent auction for fundraising.I do still sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with the number of opportunities they try to create for parents to get involved at the school, especially with a new baby. I’m just glad that no one at this school tries to make anyone feel guilty for missing events or not volunteering.

  28. Not to hijack – but just jumping off on the observation that the school seems to be making an assumption not just that parents are able to ask for time off from work to attend these school-obligations, but that there are two parents, one of whom will always be available for such things: this type of thinking doesn’t stop after elementary school. My first semester in college I was very unwell – I was diagnosed with clinical depression (not an uncommon thing to have a dormal mental illness suddenly rear its ugly head at the beginning of college). After struggling mightily to manage my situation and stay on top of my classes, the Dean of Studies decided that the best course of action would be for me to take the next semester off from school and regroup/recover/get help, then come back once I was actually ready to be in school. While the reasoning seems sound in theory, in practice it became more problematic, essentially because what I was told was “Go home, be with your family, take care of yourself, come back.” The assumption was that being at home with family was the best way to support the situation I was in. However, in my situation, being at home did NOT help me. I grew up in a single-parent home, and my father and I have never really had the greatest relationship. Moreover, because he works full-time, it basically amounted to me being completely alone once I came back home. If anything, it exacerbated the depression – because I was alone, all of my friends were in school, and I didn’t have any sort of parental figure around. The assumption that the school made was that there would be at least one parent around to help enable a recovery, but that just simply wasn’t the case. And I don’t feel like my situation is unique, as there are many kids out there in the world who come from single-parent homes, or who come from homes where their parents are no longer together and they both work full-time, and therefore to assume that sending someone home to be with family would be helpful just seems very unfair. Again, not to hijack…just wanted to point this out, as it is interesting to me to see how this sort of thinking continues all the way up into higher education.

  29. Thankfully I’m not there yet, but I can look around and see how crazy it gets. It’s not even just the schools’ expectations; it’s everything related to kids at all. I don’t remember both parents coming to all the practices AND all the games (esp since kids are often in sports year round), but that’s what’s expected here. And you’re supposed to stay for all the birthday parties, even well after toddlerhood. I agree with the point above that there are a lot more activities, each one expecting to do a holiday celebration. I couldn’t persuade my moms’ group that it is ridiculous to have a $5 gift exchange among the adults (in addition to the book exchange for the kids). What is the point of that? So, yeah. I’m cranky already and my kids are too young for school.

  30. Ick. This is making me dread school as well. Even BabyT’s daycare has a ridiculous amount of activities – in the 3 months we’ve been there, we’ve had “back to school” night, fall festival, transition party, trick or treating (what’s with giving 1 year olds plastic crap marked as 3 & up??), holiday bake sale, etc etc.Fortunately BabyT doesn’t care whether we go or not, so we opt out, especially because the evening activities interfere with bedtime.
    15 dozen cookies?? Even storebought, that would be seriously expensive.
    Do private schools have these sorts of issues?

  31. Our school asks for a lot of parent involvement; BUT, it all makes sense, is well organized and never seems gratuitous. I think that makes all the difference.Every family is required to volunteer 20 hours a year; but, it’s very well organized and there are multiple ways to fill the requirement (including just paying for the hours instead). We set up an on-line spreadsheet at the beginning of the year with all of the tasks for pretty much the whole year (though some get added on an ad hoc basis through the year). People sign up for what they can handle. Some are things you can do at home (uploading photos to the pre-school Flickr stream once a month, washing the dress up clothes a few times a year, etc.), some are easy but regular (e.g. twice a month trips to Costco), some make use of people’s professional skills (handyman tasks, computer stuff, graphic design), some are one time but hugely involved (e.g. organizing our 1 big annual event, St. Martin’s Day/Lantern Festival, which we do b/c we’re a German language school). Because it’s transparent and well organized and because there are such a variety of tasks posted well in advance, people are generally happy to pitch in.
    20 hours sounds like a lot, but personally, I prefer a system where parents are told up-front “this is how much time we need from you over the course of the year, here’s a list of needs, you decide how you want to contribute” rather than the constant scramble for “someone to help with” whatever and constant fundraising appeals we experienced at our previous daycare.
    The teachers celebrate a lot of stuff with the kids for which parents are not expected to be there– e.g., parents were not expected to attend the pre-school Halloween celebration or contribute anything for it (except to send their kid to school with their costume). For Thanksgiving, the kids made and ate a vegetable soup for which we had to contribute 1 vegetable (I sent an onion). When parents are asked to be there, we’re usually *hosted* by the teachers– e.g. for the holiday party last week, the kids performed a play and the teachers had cake, cookies and coffee ready for the parents (no parents had to bring it). Oh, and anything for which parents are invited (e.g. performances) happens in the late afternoon (3-5 pm) to help out the working parents. And there are always some who can’t make it, and that’s ok.
    I love the whole ethos of our preschool about this stuff. I doubt it will be as good once we start elementary school….

  32. wow, i am surprised by all of these posts. i really look forward to doing doing artsy craftsy projects in my girls’ (kindergarten and 2nd grade) classrooms. they love it when i come in and i love to go in and hang out with them. gives me a good opportunity to see what’s going on in their lives! the main reason i’m staying home is so that i can have the opportunity to be there for them. i feel like these days are so fleeting. i don’t want to miss anything.

  33. Wow. I really had no idea. My kids aren’t school-aged yet so I haven’t done a lot of school related research (but I’ll have to within a year) so I have no idea if this kind of thing is an expectation here (western Canada).At our daycare there is one celebration – the Christmas concert. It starts at 4:00, so they do assume that you can get off work early to come. If you can’t, your child can still participate (though can you imagine the disappointment of seeing all the other parents there…). Or if you don’t want your child to participate, you can pick them up early. But you better believe they’re going to learn Jingle Bells whether you like it or not because they start practicing months ahead of time (they’re working with toddlers and preschoolers, after all).
    But then again, this is a for-profit daycare and I pay them an arm and a leg, so my expectations are that there be NO volunteer commitment. If the rates were lower, fine. But they aren’t. So I don’t.
    15 dozen cookies blows my mind. I second the suggestion to show up with something store bought.

  34. Wow! There are some downright bitter and angry (overstressed?) moms. If you don’t want to come, find it intrusive or whatever, don’t!I think we all operate under the assumption that each of us wants this. TRUST ME, teachers find all of this hoopla just as annoying as you seem to find it around this time of year.
    Perhaps instead of venting in an online forum about how irritating we are, talk to your teacher. Let them know, tactfully, how you feel about all of the festivities. I would totally start the dialogue, but could lose my job if I said this to the wrong mom.

  35. I think every daycare or school has its own culure and it’s not even up to the individual teachers to choose how much of this stuff goes on. I also don’t think there’s any pleasing a collective of parents. We’ve used one daycare and two schools. For every parent who is angry that there is no more H’ween party, there is one who is thrilled that no Satanic event will be held. Same goes for holiday party vs. Christmas party. And so on.15 doz cookies is two batches of spritz or about 4 batches of oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies….highly excessive.
    I’m down on all of these school things because they cut into family life. I work. I hardly get enough time with my child as it is. I also don’t think most of these fundraisers net money that is anywhere near worth the expenditure of time or money. Box Tops is my peeve and NO there is no way I will ever take vacation to come in and count and bundle them the way Box Tops wants them so the school will get their 10 cents for each one. Last year I collected them obsessively and got exactly $6 worth. The winning class would get a pizza party paid for by PTO. Really? Seems like not a good use of the money. This year I just donated $20 rather than bother with Box Tops. They’ve never cashed my check! I think so much of this is just make-work and based on the twin ideas of A) there is something for anybody to do even if they have no money or time and B) moms will swallow anything they’re asked to do like good little girls, and never consider the return on investment since they’re supposed to be so giiiiiving.

  36. I’m a teacher too, and I agree with some other commentors that the hoopla drives many teachers crazy as well. In my experience, a lot of it comes from parents, not all parents, not even the majority, but a few who are REALLY into it. That’s their thing, and there’s no need to feel like you have to measure up. I never send food to school with my own kids on special occasions because I know there will already be too much (mostly junk). Little known fact: if you send a fruit or veg plate to a school function, it gets eaten! Always! In our local school culture everything is voluntary, so I mostly give myself a pass unless it’s something easy or meaningful for my kids. This year I washed a big bag of sports jerseys. That might be it for me! The constant junk food thing is my pet peeve, as a teacher and a mom. Today was the last day of preschool for my little one and she received 5 separate bags of candy from other kids! So unnecessary.

  37. I just remembered something that was head-explodingly angry-making at the time, but, in the end, rather liberating.One of the really over-the-top PTA moms explained to me she always tells parents they need to bake something for meetings and stuff, because studies have shown they will be more likely to show up. Honestly, she’s lucky I have some vestige of self-restraint and am not a violent person. But what an eye-opener.
    So very many of these activities were totally pointless, and, what’s more, they take you AWAY from your family, and make it harder to do the important things – get a good meal on the table, make sure the kids wind down for bed well, deal with child’s serious medical issues, etc. (I’d add “supervise homework” but I have a bad attitude about homework… )
    The children are old , and school doesn’t own me any more. But after all these years, I’m still pretty bitter about it.

  38. I suddenly love our school even more! Since August we’ve had exactly two class parties, two field trips, and one bake sale that parents have been asked to help with. I helped with one party, one field trip and the bake sale and that was just right!

  39. this sounds horrid and over burdensome and this is coming from a mom who’s child is in a public charter that requires parent involvement.My son is in a native language school and part of the mission of the school is to create/replicate a more community based environment for the school so each family (any family member: parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle) is required to participate in something 4 hours every month (do able). Participating is more than just showing up for some function (that would make me crazy) but can take the form of being on the PTA, helping on field trips, helping the teacher with busy work or cleaning the classroom. And it can also take the form of language or culture classes for the adults and (planned well in advance) family days where the whole school body comes together for a fundraiser, improvement projects, or just for fun. It can be a lot or work, and some show up more than others, but I appreciate the feeling of working together for a greater good that comes out of it.

  40. @Anne, I love that family involvement at your child’s school is based on cultural enrichment and actual physical work and fun rather than nonsensical activities centered on adding more crap to our kid’s diets. I think that’s my biggest beef.

  41. Wow, add me to the short list of people who are dismayed by the attitudes expressed in this post and these comments. The amount of teacher bashing on this blog has really gotten out of control. I bet people complaining about having to go to their kid’s elementary school concert are the same people who would complain if their school didn’t have a concert.

  42. Goodness. I don’t see where teachers are being bashed. School culture, quite possibly. Teachers, no, not really.However, the fact that saying it’s too much is getting defined as “bad attitude” does speak to something.
    I actually came back to say that I think think “parental involvement” in creating parties and doing fundraisers like the one mentioned is the educational equivalent of security theatre. It’s designed to demonstrate commitment to some principle and make people feel that Something Is Being Done, inconveniences everyone, and probably isn’t effective except in rare situations.
    But it’s what we have because studies show “parental involvement” is important, without (as far as I know) defining what quality involvement really is.
    I will say, @teacher: “If you don’t want to come, find it intrusive or whatever, don’t!”
    That would be fine if it were not my child that were in the middle.

  43. 2 grown-up kids here, and 1 in junior kindergarten. No problems with the teachers, most are possibly even candidates for sainthood. I don’t think the demand for parental volunteering typically comes from the teachers. It’s “the system “. Alright, so the thing is, I work. Always have. Long and hard hours at a serious job. I simply do not donate any hours to the school. None. I typically attend 1 or 2 events a year – Christmas, sometimes an honours ceremony. That’s it. And that’s just how it is. Too bad if anyone thinks less of me for it. It’s just how it is and it’s the right decision for my family.

  44. I love the idea of Educational Security Theater.We’re starting to think about preschools, so this discussion is kind of freaking me out!
    A moderate degree of parental involvement, to me, is GREAT as long as it has some meaning. Helping with reading or preparing snack or painting the hallway=fine. The weird stuff where instead of writing a 20-dollar check you’re expected to participate in a fundraiser that sells something nobody wants – not for me. Endless holiday parties and crafts and bake sales – yikes.
    I don’t want to buy junk or bake junk or participate in junk crafts to somehow demonstrate my level of commitment to my child. As many have mentioned, I’m bothered by the weird class issues raised by this stuff: if you’re a single parent who works two low-paying jobs to make ends meet, how are you supposed to participate in the Educational Theater and prove that you’re a good parent?
    To the teachers commenting: if you don’t like a lot of the extra work this creates to make papier-mache turkeys, how would you suggest parents approach you – and each other – to make meaningful changes to educational culture?

  45. I think my son’s school asks for a moderate amount of involvement. Parents are asked to provide a snack for the entire class on a 21 day rotating schedule, so it works out to about once a month. There is also some kind of parade or concert about once a month and they alternate mornings, afternoons and evenings. There are many fundraisers that I simply don’t take part in. They also ask for each parent to come in one Friday during the school year to lead an activitiy. RIght now I’m a SAHM and would love to volunteer more often at the school, but they do not allow younger siblings to come to volunteer shifts and I am not able or willing to pay for a sitter in order to volunteer.Just today was a Christmas concert (rural midwest) and gingerbread decorating activity. My husband had to take vacation time so one of us could watch the baby and the other attend the activity. I signed up to set up the room, but was given no information on what time or where to be even when I emailed twice asking, so I had the time and the childcare but not the 411 to particate.
    I feel grumpy about the no siblings rule but I understand it. If you tried to do everything the school asked of parents I think it could be overwhelming, so we pick the things that our child notices.

  46. Well, I am one of the homeroom moms for kindergarten, and we ask for one donation at the begining of the year($10) for class parties and class gift, and also a rough estimate of the amount of time the parents would like to volunteer at an intro meeting. All this is voluntary. If parents choose not to participate, that is perfectly fine. Most of the volunteering involves helping with reading and math in the classroom! No other fundraising are required. (though the school always asks for cash donations).We do have 2 field trips and 3 parties per year and invite parents to come and join their children. Again, parents can choose whether the want to come. A lot of craft and party ideas have come our way which we rejected because of additional cost and burden to parents.
    My husband and I just “hosted” the kindergarten party today with crafts and purchased the majority of the materials and did most of the preparation. Parents were invited to help (some did) but we fully did not expect everyone to make it.
    I realized many families have to work and have very busy schedules. We happen to have flexible schedules and we are happy to host the party. We volunteer because we want the all the children in our school community to do well, but also enjoy a party once in a while! 🙂

  47. It’s sad that some teachers feel bashed here. Teachers hold the world together. Elmer’s glue, on the other hand . . . not so much.(For a booster, check out this video about teachers:
    There are too many “opportunities” for parents to participate at our daycare/school. Last night, I went to pick my son up, and found myself in the middle of a potluck. True story, and I have forgiven myself for not even realizing it was an evening thing on the grounds that I went to Halloween and my husband went to Thanksgiving and we kind of decided to let this one slide. They usually have these events right after nap, so that you have to then take your kid home. (The school part of the day is over by that point, and everyone else is going home. It’s horrible to peel your kid off your person so you can go to work for an hour and a half, and horrible to miss an entire half day too.) I don’t think this is intentional — the teachers at my son’s school are fabulous and cheerful even after a week with 18 toddlers.
    At any rate, I got a free surprise dinner, and didn’t feel too badly about it: I don’t imagine we were short on food. (Even though no one, NO ONE, made 15 dozen cookies. Really, I misread that as 15 cookies at first because 15 dozen makes NO SENSE.)
    I wonder, at our school, if this really isn’t about creating opportunities and really creating demand and need. It’s hard to leave your kid hanging. And after my second back surgery, when I finally showed up to a school event, my kid went crazy with it, telling everyone “It’s my mommy! This is my mommy!” He was frantic with it.
    I’m not so much into this stuff anyway. The kid, yes. The construction paper, no. I figure just give the kid some art supplies and let him have at it — don’t make him make something in particular, for which you do 80% of the work. I don’t have that kind of energy.

  48. I just wanted to say sorry for my angry post above. My daughter had an amazing public-school teacher last year, and all the parents happily pitched in (me included). And today was a horrible day, with my little one having tantrums while we were trapped watching an hour+ -long, poorly planned (missing classrooms, long pauses) holiday program.I am frustrated because my daughter’s teacher this year, and her school are not up to the experience we had last year. And yet, at least once a week, we’re supposed to bring something early, make something for school, come to some event at school, etc.
    The school is horribly organized (which is not the teacher’s fault), and they have drag-on “announcements” at “assembly” every Monday morning, so if you want to know what’s going on, you have to be there on a Monday morning for goodness knows how long. They assume all the parents go. And that’s just one example. Oh, and then they line us up to get in, and spend 30 minutes trying to track down someone to unlock the gate we’re trapped behind.
    And in my daughter’s program, the teacher puts up a sign-up sheet. Period. She doesn’t even really do anything at all with the kids (or talk to the parents) once the parents get there. The parents wind up breaking up fights and trying to corral the kids. Last year’s teacher wasn’t like this at all. She used the time to engage the children and the parents. Which I didn’t so much mind.
    And I do always bring veggie trays to our parties, and they do *not* get eaten. All the store-bought chips and cookies and candies do, though.
    I know kids love to see their parents at school, and I love to see my kid, of course. Especially if I just happen to have someone that can watch my younger one and can give my older one undivided attention.
    That’s part of it, too. We all have a routine. My youngest’s routine is to have a giant meltdown when it’s time to go pick up his sister, so these parties and events are really stressful for me. He doesn’t want to go, and she doesn’t want him there. I’m sure that if I am still at home when my youngest is having these kinds of activities, it will be a different experience. Or if my husband has the flexibility to watch one kid or go by himself.
    I’m not passing judgment on all teachers or all events. But I will say that this year at our school has been a nightmare of logistics and burdens. I think the school wants the parents there too much. And the teacher specifically tells us how disappointed our children are when we aren’t there.
    Finally, when I’ve made suggestions to the teacher, I either hear that this is how she’s always done it (for 20+ years of teaching), or that I can bring it up with the principal, who is not very available.
    I’m not saying teachers suck, or bashing teachers. I love good teachers! I am saying that this year, I have had to do too much stuff that I don’t think really has benefited my child at all.

  49. 1. I totally agree – enough with all this extra crap – particularly the candy & the endless parties.2. But does anyone else have a nagging worry that our children will somehow be “left out”? I may just be projecting here… but my parents rarely let me watch cartoons, didn’t support my participating in school fundraisers, etc… and I always felt a little on the sidelines in late-elementary/middle-school, as if everyone else knew that my parents thought that they/we were “better” than what the school said we all should be doing. (Major run-on sentence, sorry.) …. And now I talk to my little girl’s friends’ parents, and they’re all about “networking” and “holiday parties” and so on. I’m not. But I worry that her social life is going to be negatively impacted. That she’ll be labeled as weird, not invited to get-togethers, etc.
    Yet, at the same time, I really do believe in my heart of hearts that I’m making the right choices both for her and for our family –

  50. OK, last thought, I promise.And, to add, that we do get locked out at least once every other week. At least once a week or two, we wait 10-30 minutes we were there early for something because no one unlocks the gate (and they took the teacher’s keys away).
    My working mother would never, EVER have sat behind a locked gate holding a veggie tray for 30 minutes. It’s not just the expectations of the parents, but the lack of respect for our time. We’re not really meeting any of our obligations during that time. It’s lost. And time is so valuable! To our kids, to us. To our work.
    It’s taken for granted. My husband was saying yesterday his mom never even went to a single parent-teacher conference. My mom never came on field trips or to the one or two parties we had a year. When my mom did do something, it was special. I don’t think my daughter feels like that at all, because I’m there all the time. And I think it brings diminished value to the time I do spend doing stuff for her school.

  51. I agree w many posters here and have one to add: My younger son’s preschool, for which we pay tuition, set up a fundraiser where parents wrap gifts at Borders … and they are hounding us to sign up, after they made the commitment at Borders, for people to fill in. Makes me cranky and it’s no 15 dozen cookies!

  52. I got nothing on the school thing – but GAK! 15 dozen cookies? That is how many we make on Christmas Baking Day (an annual whole family event involving excessive amounts sugar). It is MASSIVE and only happens once a year… I can’t imagine doing that for a school!

  53. @shandraYour child does not have to be in the middle. I’m a teacher and I am a mom, so that means I can’t make it to most of my son’s parties and school functions.
    I’ve never even thought about this being detrimental to him – because it isn’t. He’s happy and well adjusted and doesn’t really seem to care too much if I can’t make it to everything. It’s just not that big of a deal to either of us because we have a lot we do that has nothing to do with his school.
    And if you feel that strongly about it – please talk to his school principal or teacher, or whoever it is in charge. Try making some suggestions to change the culture of your child’s school. It may very well be that no one has even considered your point of view (probably).

  54. Great webpage! I dont imagine Ive seen every one of the angles of this theme the way in which youve pointed them out. Youre a accurate star, a rock star guy. Youve got a great deal to say and know so much about the subject that i think you ought to just teach a class about it.

  55. That’s actually pretty impressively worded spam there.And I am still stuck on 15 dozen cookies. I hope it’s some sort of incorrectly said request. Like they need a dozen-15 cookies. Because that makes way more sense. What would you even DO with that many cookies? Give two to each kid in 5th grade?
    My kids preschool (back when I had a job had quite a few activities, but they were on-site, so it wasn’t too hard to pop over for them. Sometimes it meant I left work early, and just grabbed the kids after. Sometimes I went back. There was never any fundraising. Which was good since we paid a huge chunk of my salary to them.

  56. I am sure most people aren’t intending to teacher bash, but in the current anti-teacher culture it comes off that way.Maybe I’m not really understanding the problem because I don’t see the request for parental involvement at my school as excessive. We expect parents to come to conferences twice a year, curriculum night in the fall, and one grade-level program on an evening (everyone in the family welcome!). We have one fundraiser which requests cash donations in the form of “pledges” to students as they participate in a walk. Individual classrooms may request or accept parent volunteers, but it’s not expected. Some working parents ask to help out from home (run book orders, etc.). It’s pretty apparent which parents are involved with their children and they aren’t necessarily the parents who are in the school all the time.
    Yesterday was the last day before our winter break. Some of our PTA parents are very control freakish and want to run the classroom parties. Some teachers like this because it gives them one less thing to worry about. Some teachers prefer to do a low-key celebration- a snack and a simple craft or game maybe. One of the parents in my friend’s classroom was FURIOUS because the teacher didn’t let the parents plan the party. She thought her child was being deprived of something because they teacher instead told the kids they could bring in board games and they spent the last hour of the day playing games.
    We just can’t win which is why this is all so frustrating.

  57. One more comment now after reading the NY Times article. The moms who feel the need to participate in every fundraiser are making a choice to do so. I can say that in my school these moms desperately want to do this. They may complain about it, but it seems to throw them back to their role as queen bees in high school. As teachers we’d love for a different type of parental involvement.As a parent, I will never participate in the types of things that mom was doing in the article. I will, however, attend all concerts and academic-related events for my child. I will go to conferences and donate a treat or time now and then. The social stuff is all about the parents not the school culture or the teachers.

  58. @teacher Actually my son’s school now is fine – totally reasonable schedule and commitments. (They did used to have a 3 hr, no joke, concert, for 3-6 year olds. But they reined it in. And it was only once.)But I know from my neighbours that his school next year is into all this (and that they are stressed about it) and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a rough transition for our two-WOHP, community-committed family. And I saw it from the other side when I was working at a local school. I didn’t have kids then and I realize now how off my expectations were.
    When someone says “do this for the kids!” it carries a certain obligatory weight, especially when one’s child is the messenger. Your kid might be fine with it but I suspect mine will not be.
    That’s something I wish the school would consider. But my game plan is to join the PTA or some committee or other while on maternity leave and see what discussion is possible.

  59. Wow, teachers- I was certainly not bashing teachers. I assume that a lot of you are in the same situation as I am: working parents just trying to make it all balance. My mom was a teacher, so growing up, my dad was the one who had to do any of the middle of the day things at my school. I don’t think there were very many of those, though, at least not ones that parents were invited to attend.However, I think the environment in which my kids are going to go to school is very different than the one I had. Budgets have been cut painfully, and PTAs are trying to make up the difference, so there is more fundraising, for one thing. Our local schools seem to be in constant fundraising mode. When I was a kid, it was a once a year thing. It also seems to me that the expectations on mothers has ratcheted up. I don’t think that last bit has anything to do with teachers at all, and probably doesn’t even have anything to do with the school. I suspect it is born from the double-edged guilt around motherhood these days- SAHMs get crap for not being in the workforce and “throwing away” their education (whatever that means), so they feel like they need to justify the fact that they aren’t in the workforce by devoting huge amounts of time to their kids, and WOHMs get crap for putting our careers ahead of our kids, so we feel like we need to keep up in some way to prove that our kids “come first” (whatever that means).
    I wish we could just call a truce, look at each other and acknowledge that whether we are staying at home or working outside the home, we are doing what is best for our families based on our individual situations. And that the kids are fine, and don’t need a lot of the things that are being requested these days- like, for instance, 15 dozen cookies. But I know that is never going to happen, so I’ll just have to deal with the guilt trips. Because there is no way I’ll be able to keep up with some of the moms I know. My job is flexible, but not THAT flexible, and I think being home for dinner is more important than volunteering at a class party.

  60. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Here’s what bothers me about our son’s first grade class and the kinds of “parent involvement” I see happening (not always at the teacher’s request):1) Lots and LOTS of sugar in the classroom. Every week there is a “very important person,” and that person brings snacks. For some reason, this always seems to involve cupcakes or cookies or something. There is always a holiday or birthday celebration with sugary treats. And kids will often bring “treats” for every kid in the class for Halloween, Christmas, etc. Stop the insanity! I don’t want my kid coming home from school with chocolate on his face every other day.
    2) We have a really involved group of parents at our school, but it seems like so much of their energy is directed at cutting out decorations, baking treats, etc. Seems like a lot of the posts here are saying the same thing. Why not put this (wo)manpower to greater use? Parents could read to kids, or have kids read to them. They could quiz kids in math or spelling. Tutor kids in whatever. I mean, if we’re going to work for free, then USE US FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. The amount of time that goes into those hallway or classroom paper “scenes” of leaves, snowmen, etc. just boggles my mind. Do the kids really care that much?

  61. Well, my kids are only in Nursery school/Kinder (4,&), so I don’t exactly know how much involvement is expected of parents at primary School, but if it’s like kinder, then it is minimal.In fact, at my kids’ kinder, parents aren’t even invited to Christmas parties, Carnivale (local Halloween)and the like. And absolutely no way are well allowed on school excursions. All of these are ‘school only’ affairs. Last year we were only invited to the end of year party and another event. Of course there is the occasional fund raising ‘book sale’ or raffle and volunteers are called upon, and of course the school elections, but that is it.
    OTOH, a friend of mine, whose son goes to the local Catholic School, said the amount of involvement for fund raising events like cake stalls etc was massive. Seems as though Italian Catholic Schools do not get by on school fees and govt contributions and require parents to chip in ( with their time,) to help get money together. The Public system less, by the looks.

  62. As a former elementary school teacher, who left because she couldn’t take the pressure, I just wanted to chime in. Teachers really have so much, too much, to do, and the work load is ever increasing in the atmosphere of standardized testing/teacher bashing/value added evaluations/etc. Their planning times are often taken away, so they are planning and grading and writing report cards at nights and on weekends. From this perspective, I can see why they would want to recruit parents for the ‘extras.’Still–as a WOHM, as another commenter put it, I’d rather be home for dinner than volunteering at my daughter’s school.
    I think the bigger issue is that there’s not a great infrastructure for taking care of our kids, at least in the U.S., at least IMHO. We’re trying to do the best we can, often with family living far away, often in workplaces that aren’t parent-friendly, often in schools that aren’t teacher friendly. There are so many expectations all around to do better and do more. It’s a struggle.

  63. I teach middle school, and for the most part I never meet the parents of my students. All we ask is that the parents show up for Back to School night, and only about 20% of our parents actually show up. So there is an end to this craziness! Some of the 7th graders were upset this year that there aren’t any holiday parties like they had in elementary school, but with the students having 6 different teachers per day, there isn’t really a way to organize that.To respond to a much earlier comment – when teachers complain about lack of parent involvement, we’re not talking about volunteering. We’re talking about the parents who use the TV as a babysitter, who never read to their children before kindergarten, who never taught their children how to act in social situations and refuse to accept any responsibility when their children act out. We want the parents to be parents at HOME, not at school.

  64. We go to an expensive Montessori school and, I have to admit, I expected to be asked to do nothing (not that I wouldn’t do anything, but that I wouldn’t be asked). I was wrong and I am kind of embarrassed that I thought that. I’m not angry about it, but I do find it awkward. When I’m riding my bike away after dropping off my son and asked to “take (another) pamphlet about the annual fundraiser” I just can’t believe it. I mean, I’m on my BIKE, do I look like I have MORE money?

  65. You know, I’m going to try to say this right, but what Katie said struck me. I feel like the schools are calling for parental involvement *with education* and a little bit with schools. But there’s a culture of middle- or upper-middle-class people, who are already involved enough with education, but who are the ones most likely to hear and take to heart messages from authorities. So they hear a call for involvement with education that’s really directed at others who may not be involved enough, and they take it as a call for parental involvement *in schools* (which is often the way you see if phrased in stats – “schools with more parental involvement do better on various measures”) and some of them overdo it. I think it’s really hard to put together a message for everyone – I know I was shocked on Mouse’s first day of school when the principal said “please have your child eat the school lunch, it will be much more nutritious than what you send from home”. Well no, I provide Mouse with a bento box full of organic goodies every day, mostly vegetarian, lots of food value, right? But the resources and time to do that put me in the minority in our school and she was really speaking to the majority. Things like that happen all the time. I feel like our school isn’t so bad with the requests because the administration is pretty sensitive to the fact that we’re like 98% families with all adults working or trying to. But I’ve heard this from people at more affluent schools a lot. Moxie is definitely not a crank!

  66. I’m a SAHM with two kids in public school. Our school asks families to provide snacks for 2 weeks each school year and sends out a list of “recommended” snacks- as in healthy ones. The sugary treats seem to be mainly limited to birthdays. There are only 2 events per year that require parental attendance. We are asked to volunteer 2 times in the classroom for 4 hours. There is usually one field trip per month and most families seem to volunteer to chaperon 1-2 each year. There are frequently younger siblings present in the classroom and on on the field trips. There are parent meetings every 2 months where dinner and childcare are provided. There is one fall fundraiser which consists of selling “crap” which many opt out of. There is a big spring fundraiser which requires lots of involvement, but its a fun event and provides clear benefit. Lots of families put in more time, a few put in less, but honestly the school is so beautiful and the teachers so wonderful, that most of us are motivated to be there as often as we can be. And no one asks for 15 dozen cookies from one person.

  67. @AmyM- I’m honestly curious, and not trying to be snarky: what do the families with two working parents do for the request to volunteer in the classroom for 4 hours twice a year? I’d have to burn two PTO days to do that. One hour or maybe two hours I could get away with using flex time. But four hours? That’s going to require actual time off, and once you add in commute time, it would probably require an entire day off. I’d probably do if that really was the norm at the school, but I’d probably also be pretty cranky about it.@Charisse, I think you said it perfectly.

  68. Honestly, this was one aspect of why we chose to homeschool. Family time is really valuable to us and it just felt like we weren’t achieving the kind of value-passing-from-parent-to-child moments even when I was with my kids in a room full of other children. I’ve taught high school and after I had kids I taught preschool for a time (my kids went to the same school while I was there), and my husband still teaches high school (although in the UAE now). I just wanted the flexibility to be able to enjoy and recognize those little moments without having to adhere to someone else’s schedule. I know homeschooling isn’t an option for everyone, or even an interest on the radar for some, but it was for us and we’ve found it a solution in many ways to the over scheduling pressure we were feeling from others.

  69. Remember PS 40? They expected you to sit and read with your child for the first 7 months of Kindergarten for 20 minutes. And you know that meant Miss Breslaw was in the hall for that 20 minutes!I agree, we had a gingerbread house making session 1230-130 this past Friday. Then what do we do for the hour before pick-up? I just sign him out after the activity. It seems they don’t take any one elses schedule nto consideration. PLUS, if you knew there was lice going around in that grade, couldn’t you have cancelled the activity!
    I was annoyed.

  70. I just read an article in I think the NYT about more and more parents rebelling against so much volunteer time. Of course I can’t find the link, but I don’t think you’re a crank it seems to be an increasingly common feeling. I might bitch about the Swiss school day schedule (oh, and I do) but I’ll say this – the schools have it covered in terms of personnel and materials required. This year parents were asked to help one evening crafting elves and sheep and such for an Advent surprise for the kids. Last year I don’t remember being asked for anything. Almost makes up for the whole no lunchroom thing. (Not really.)

  71. My son just started kindergarten this year – I’m a SAHM, he didn’t go to preschool, so I kind of got knocked over the head with having to remember all the minutiae (what day is our snack day, bring a book this day, bring a red apple for a craft that day, and so on and so on). And it’s nowhere near the level of parental involvement other people are describing here, and it still annoys me a lot. I think of my own school days: my mom (sahm of 6) sent us off to the bus stop in the morning. We went to school all day and we came home in the afternoon. Of course, we had the occasional field trip, or baking a treat to bring in for our birthdays, — but a handful of times a year is doable, a handful of times a week is stressful.I’ll have to ask my mom about this, quite possibly, I’m romanticizing the past as I tend to do! 🙂

  72. When I went to school, my parents left me to do my homework by myself – because, well, it was MY homework. Projects for me to do. If I needed help or had a question they were always there for me, but it was the exception not the rule. They both worked, so they weren’t able to participate in activities. But, if there was a play or musical performance we were in, they were there.And I want it that way when my kids go to school.
    I’m appalled by how much my friends are asked to be involved in their kids’ school. All kinds of activities, parties, fundraisers, and the kids bringing home such insane amounts of homework that requires the parents’ involvement. I’m sorry, but who is going to school??? I did my 12 years of grade school, thank you very much.

  73. I just read the aforementioned NYT article (thanks for the link @Laura). My first reaction is where are all the over-volunteered dads (snark, snark)? Oprah calls this kind of behavior “the disease to please.” I think the larger life lesson is that nobody can do my personal boundary work for me. And no one can make me feel guilty without my permission. Meaning that if, for example, some uberparent gets off on baking 15 doz cookies, that’s their problem, not mine. I choose NOT to view that particular choice as the yardstick to which I myself must measure up. I can pick and choose my own yardsticks, and freely exchange them as my needs change. I don’t need, nor should I expect, an uberparent’s blessing to be able to do things my way, and to feel really good about it!I choose NOT to listen to guilt trips, and I know I can think of countless other ways to “make my kids’ faces light up” that are a better fit for my time, my health, and my money. If you know you are susceptible do the kind of “do it for the kids” desperate email chains begging for your unpaid work– busy work you know in your heart to be a bunch of window-dressing with no impact on actual student learning– then I urge you to hit DELETE, and use the block function. Make the uberparents ask you to your face, and have some responses prepared: “I’m sorry, that doesn’t work for me right now.” Then walk away. It’s not personal. Nobody is going to prioritize your family time for you.
    Funny story – I have a dear friend who was an uber-volunteer for years in her 7 and 9-year-old’s public schools. She recently accepted a job as an in-class paraprofessional at a different public school in the same school system, where she says she is getting paid to do pretty much the exact same things she used to do for free. I think she is a genius!
    I only have one kid in a school setting: a co-op preschool, which relies heavily on family volunteerism, but which we chose because there is also a fabulous option to pay a lump sum in lieu of doing 99% of the “showing up and selling stuff” song and dance. I think that is the way of the future. I get to show up when I want to, and no one asks me for anything because it is already checked off that I’m not available. Love it, and will look for a public elementary school with a similar PTA choice structure.

  74. I am a SAHM with a supportive DH … the one people would perceive as having all sorts of time to volunteer at school. I don’t have that time and what galls me the most is when doing all of these extra things for the school takes me away from MY KIDS. As in, “Sorry honey, I can’t play with you right now, mommy has to make 15 dozen cookies for your school.”It all just makes me feel like our priorities are a bit out of whack.

  75. MIne just started nursery (she’s 3) and this is already driving me potty. The school assumes that mummies don’t work, so each week we get an announcement that we’re supposed to show up to some event that week, with no notice, during work hours. I don’t only work full time, I travel so this is just impossible. And I worry she’s missing out because it’s always our nanny who goes.It is what it is, schools don’t seem to see their responsibility to get us involved in a constructive way.
    Any teachers care to comment?

  76. A friend of mine, a teacher at the time of this story, gave me wonderful advice:When asked to “volunteer,” simply laugh maniacally, look the person in the eye, and say, quietly but firmly, “No.” Then walk away. I’ve never tried the maniacal laugh, but I did start saying no a lot more!

  77. Yes! I feel like such a grump when I get the request for yet ANOTHER picture of my child for a craft (I don’t have time to develop pictures for MYSELF), or $13 and my presence for the 3-year-old trip to the Build-A-Bear store. I work, and my husband desperately needs those few hours a week to do his work and regain his sanity, and we are asked to come to the school for a party or event way too often.

  78. We’re pretty lucky. Our school asks for a reasonable volunteering schedule (about 2 hours or so a month). They’ve had two conferences, an ice cream social, kindergarten “get to know you” social, a book fair, and a little performance in the school so far. We opted out of the fundraising (I’d rather just donate to the school then foist useless stuff on friends and family).I’m a SAHM with an only child though, so I can see how even this light load would feel like a lot if I had to schedule it around work/childcare/etc.
    How long WOULD it take to bake 15 dozen cookies? That’s definitely the kind of thing I’d just say “no” to without a qualm.

  79. Oh my god, yes, damnit, I am sick of all of the events that my 4 year old could care less about! My biggest pet peeve is Valentine’s Day. Because, seriously, do preschoolers need to give each Valentine’s day cards? My husband and I don’t do that and we are in a romantic relationship (most of the time). I just don’t get it!!!Whew. Thanks for letting me that off my chest.

  80. @Cloud- because of where I live, usually one parent has a flexible schedule or works from home, or has a job with ample vacation time. Also lots of people here bike or walk to work. There are 4 SAHMs who have children in my child’s class. I know one child in my daughter’s class has an older sister who does the volunteer time. Another child’s grandmother volunteers, and a third child has a parent I’ve never seen at anything- but I think she has 8 children. It’s made very explicit from the beginning what the expectations are, and a few people make arrangements to put in time other than in the classroom during the day. Otherwise there are other reasonable public school options, including another program in the same building. The key is that there are few surprises- a schedule is consolidated 1-2 times per semester, the activities make sense, school supplies are requested at one time at the beginning of the year, other stuff is always “if you have it around the house, please send X”. Really it ends up being a morning with most people leaving at lunch. It’s a public (non-charter) Reggio Emilia program and it’s a pleasant enough place to be, which helps!

  81. My experience is really different. I live near Boston, MA, in a pretty affluent town, and both my kids are in elementary school. There are plenty of *opportunities* to volunteer, but I never feel expected or pressured into doing so. There are some parents who help in the classroom, sign up for library days, chaparone on field trips, attend PTO meetings and parent socials… and then there are, I think, plenty of others like me, who just don’t, without any repercussions. And we have nowhere near the event schedule some of you are describing – there’s a picnic in the fall, another in late spring, and last year my son’s class gave a recorder concert. But that’s about it. The daycare my daughter was in has 1 potluck, 1 pancake breakfast, and 1 end-of-year picnic per year.So I guess I’m just saying it’s not like that everywhere, and you should be able to decline requests – if you’re really getting pressured, I’d try to talk to the administrator.

  82. We both work but my husband is underemployed. Still there are constant demands and he doesn’t have time to do them all either. Either we are being asked at 3pm to deliver food for a party the next day (that we also were just told about and can’t attend) or we are told 3 days before parent/teacher conferences that they are happening. It’s like the teachers and administrators think that we all own our businesses and can take off any time we want. So not true. Sometimes I have had meetings scheduled and have had to miss the activity. My kids make a point of asking me to attend EVERYTHING. It’s upsetting to disappoint them.When I get those requests for food for the next day, I take the boys to the market and we pick up a bag of cookies. If they can’t bother to give me some notice, that’s what they are getting. My husband says with no notice we shouldn’t send anything, but I think that is hard on my kids.
    My notes to the teacher have not even earned me a response.

  83. 15 dozen cookies from 1 parent/family alone? First off, our school doesn’t let us bring homemade (safety etc). 2nd, why can’t each parent bring ONE dozen and spread the “joy”?I’m a crank too 😉

  84. This all seems to come down to a select few who are pulling all of the strings because they have nothing better to do than to sit around and think about how they can make school life even better for their children. There comes a time when you just have to say enough already. The kids will be just fine.

  85. I sometimes wonder if the people who run our schools are from another planet. After all, it appears that everything revolves around them and all of their agendas. It’s crazy sometimes!

  86. I think that schools sometimes play off of the guilt that people will feel if they don’t bake the 15 dozen cookies. Do we really have a choice? I may be exaggerating a little here, but perhaps that does play a small role in all of this.

  87. Glad you have this contest. I’ve been meinnag to send this suggestion but haven’t gotten around to it until this incentive came along. You are doing a good job at the Coop of sourcing many items locally, or as locally as possible. I would like to see the coop source even more items from local growers and producers, and less items from out of state or out of the country. Obviously there are many items that can only come from far away. But I’m sure there are still more items that could be obtained closer to LA. Thanks, and keep up the good work. Don White (Co-Op member)

  88. Znajdowac sie byc moze szkopulem tym winny pochwycic sie prawodawcy .Nalezy jednakze zaznaczyc, iz na tychze zbycie pozyczek pozabankowych roznice w daninach pozyczek w przeroznych firmach nawiedzaja wybitnie masywnego.
    Dla zestawienia, w sasiedztwie debecie zlotowkowym miesieczne zlecenia wobec banku zdolaja egzystowac nawet 65 odsetek miesiecznych dochodow, tedy dla figury zarabiajacych malo wodka gdanska istnieje samotna ewentualnoscia na zadluzenie.
    Totez podobnie wieksza czesc delikwentow jest ich swiadoma oraz nie sa one w celu nich zdumieniem.
    Nastepujacych funduszy jest dozwolone oraz poszukac posrod najblizszych.

  89. Preferujemy oczywiscie te przeszlego.Wykonuja w istocie w ramach rutynowych pozyczek kiedy i sposrod wykorzystaniem programu niepodparciu unijnego dla fabryki – Jeremie. Animuje az do zaznajomienia sie z ich rozmaita podaza.
    sposrod kazdej strony czyhaja na nas pogrozenia w osobowosci kociubow, niuansow ustawowych oraz schowanych naleznosci.
    Istnieje to pewna sposrod najogromniejszych roznicy pomiedzy instytucjami niepodatkowymi w obszarze debetow.
    Dogmat istnieje ponowna: interes pozyczkowa wpisuje w umowie modelowa liczbe chwilowki lagodna 4000 niezlociutkich, jednak az do lapie podaruje nam nic bardziej blednego 1000 zlocistych.
    pożyczki pozabankowe

  90. Wierzytelnosci pozabankowe sa zawiniete wadliwa renoma. Rzeczowo nie ma dnia, zeby nie przeczytac w gazetach albo w Internecie, ze owego modelu pozyczki sa kosztowne, poprzetykane rozmaitego wariantu „pulapkami”, natomiast w rezultacie sa nadzwyczaj ryzykowne.Trwanie splaty wierzytelnosci mieszczacy sie jest w umowie dostrajanej za posrednictwem Przepis Cywilny.
    Niewatpliwie byla to wyplata zmajstrowana na okazji zachecie, dla banalnego Kowalskiego znajdujaca sie z wyjatkiem zasiegiem.
    Gigantyczne ryzyko = rozleglego procent
    Wierzytelnosci pozabankowe sa dlatego nawet kilkunastokrotnie drozsze anizeli rutynowy debet w banku…
    chwilówki przez internet

  91. Zatajone koszty, wysokie odsetki zas brak „humanitarnego” nastawienia do czlowieka – wierzytelnosci pozabankowe nie rozweselaja sie w niewlasnym kraju wlosci ewaluacja, tudziez pozyczkodawcy maja wobec organizacji walutowych do licha i troche skargow.W poniektorych kondycjach niesie to nalezyte rezultaty.
    W lapidarnej pogawedce bankowy doradca predko rozwiewa nadzieje na niedrogi debet.
    Nie ufundujmyz sie zrobic w konia!
    Rozstrzygajac sie na taka pozyczke, warto dlatego skonfrontowac podazy wielu organizacyj -zaoszczedzic wolno w gruncie rzeczy sporo.
    chwilówki przez internet

  92. Co wyczekuje pania Katarzyne po rozwodzie? Co stanie sie ze spolem splacanym dlugiem?Naprawde acz nie istnieje, i kredytobiorca, jaki wypierdala sposrod banku „z kwitkiem” niby obecnie pozuje sie az do fabryki pozabankowej – po pozyczke, temat jednoznaczna.
    Kwestii nie upraszczaja takze portale posredniczace w transakcji – tak aby wywiac pozyczke na np. 5000 niezlocistych, uprzednio nalezy zaniesc i oddac dlug w zwrocie dubel mniejsze pozyczki.
    Nie baczac na rzeczonego wracajac do przedmiotu, w najwyzszym szczeblu drastyczne zyje oprocentowanie kredytow gotowkowych, byc moze nie w rytmu zaciagania w gruncie rzeczy zatytulowanych chyzych dlugow, chociaz w owej sekundzie u dolu wymogiem wezmiemy dlugi hipoteczne azali takze takie, ktorych splata stanowi pare lat, to szycha wciecie alkoholowy czesc ma wielkiego waznosc.
    No, chyba, ze komus wielce podlega azeby calosc pozostalo „po niesedziwemu”…
    chwilówki bez bik

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