Back to school jitters really do exist. As a middle school counselor, I still get them. They come weeks before school even starts. For minority children attending a school that isn’t diverse, I can only imagine the jitters that they feel.
It’s difficult to be the minority in any situation, but especially school. It can be difficult for the parents too — dropping their children off in a sea of white and hoping that their children will still be okay with who they are.
Here are a few ways that parents can help their children adjust to a school that isn’t diverse.
Be an Advocate for Diversity and Social Change
Does your child’s school celebrate Black History Month? Hispanic Heritage Month? Does the school have a Multicultural Festival? If the school is not currently celebrating cultural diversity, have a talk with other parents and community stakeholders to bring culture into the school. It may not be that the school is against having more culturally diverse programs, but perhaps they don’t know how to get started.
Joining the PTO (Parent/Teacher Organization) can help you stay informed on all the important events going on at the school. You will be the first to know where and how money is being spent, along with the accomplishments and downfalls of the school. Being a part of the PTO gives you a voice that is heard quicker from the inside. It also gives you an opportunity to network with other parents and administrators at your child’s school.
My children love when I come to their school. Whether it’s to read to their class, sit with them at lunch, attend a field trip or visit a class party. Right or wrong, educators make assumptions about parents that aren’t present. As an educator myself, it can be difficult for me to get away from my own school to be present at my children’s events. Sometimes my husband or mother-in-law go in my place.
However, there are a few key times in the year that I make my presence a priority. One of those is the Open House. You only get one chance to make a first impression. I make time to make eye contact with the teacher and listen to their expectations as well as express my own.
I also make time to attend parent/teacher conferences. It’s important to know how your child is progressing in school and what potential issues they may have. There are so many negative perceptions about minorities that exist. I make sure that showing up is the first step in smashing those stereotypes for my child.
Talk to Your Child
When your kids are in school, one of the most important things you can do every day is to talk to them. Sometimes simply asking how their day went is not enough. When your child is attending a school that isn’t diverse, it’s important to make sure they are having a good experience. You can ask questions like:
Who are your friends? What are they like?
Is anyone mean to you? Who are the mean kids? Who are they picking on?
How was lunch? Who did you sit with? Is there anyone that sits alone?
Who is your favorite teacher? Who is your least favorite teacher? Why?
What do you wish was different about your school?
Are there any kids in your class that look like you? Are there any kids in the school that look like you?
Sending your child to a diverse school is most parent’s dream. We want our children to have mirrors of themselves in the place that they spend most of their time. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for everyone. However, sending your child to a school that isn’t diverse doesn’t have to be a negative experience.
Photo source for all: Unsplash.com
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