Originally published in the Summer 2015 Parents’ Resource Guide
Leyda Morales knows firsthand about school culture. After years of working with children in the Grass Valley Schools as English Learning Manager, she is well studied in the daily conventions of school. I was tickled with her enthusiasm as she said what became a familiar refrain while she was interpreter for a Triple P Parenting workshop for Spanish-speaking families. Every so often throughout the class Leyda would interject brightly, “We do this at School!”
Family Rules Help Children
When children come to school they learn how to function as part of a group, how to take turns, and how to follow a set of school rules. Leyda was in a unique position. She observed similarities between what families were learning at the workshop, and how this compared with what children learn in order to function at school. She got me thinking how when families have clear, age-appropriate guidelines at home, their children will have more of a sense about how to fit in at school. This can make the transition toward acclimating to school each fall a whole lot easier on kids.
At times, Leyda got excited during Spanish Triple P, and her Spanish would sound faster and faster. I wouldn’t have a clue what she was saying, until she would stop and say, in English, “I was just telling the class how ”we do this in school!”
On one occasion, I had been sharing the strategy of setting clear ground rules. Some families like to think of this as making family agreements. The family sits together and talks about what will help them get along better. They brainstorm on reducing the fighting and increasing the fun. Also, how to incorporate into the rules the family’s values for treating each other with love and respect. Get the rules down on paper next, and perhaps even have the children write down and decorate the document. Next, post the family rules for everyone to see. Leyda explained how at school they teach the rules of caring for each other and their school. Every child learns what is expected.
We Do This At Home!
Children who live in a household with clear standards and accountability can more easily understand about the rules at school. There will be something familiar about having the teachers say, “Wait your turn, please.” If you haven’t already been doing this at home, don’t worry! It’s never too late. You can sit down and make your family agreements today. Just remember, it will take time for your kids to test out whether you’re serious about enforcing these new ideas.When children go to school after practicing family rules at home, it feels natural to abide by school rules. Why? Because they can think to themselves, I know how this works because we do this at home!