Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What additional information do I need to know about your child?

Well, tomorrow is back-to-school day for Zoe. Maya starts on Monday. They are very excited, especially Maya, who can't wait to start Kindergarten! It's all I can do to get the school uniform off her -- "don't I need to try it on again?!"

I just spent the evening filling out all the forms the school thinks are essential -- emergency contact, driver form, general information. Just how many times do we have to write the SAME INFORMATION?!

And the teachers for each of the girls asked for some information, and then asked on the form, "Is there any other information I need to know?"

What do you do at that point? Do you tell the teacher your child is adopted? That there's no daddy in your nontraditional family? I have that debate each year. I mean, I know it's going to come up at some point. My kids aren't exactly shy about it. Zoe will write about it. She'll share it with classmates. So isn't it a good idea to give the teacher a heads-up? Or do I just let it unfold?

I asked Zoe what she wanted me to say in answer to that question on the form; I told her I wanted to know her opinion, but I wouldn't necessarily do what she wanted, since it was my responsibility to fill out the form. She said she wanted me to tell her teacher.

I decided to share. I explained that we talked very openly about adoption in our family, and that was a great thing. And I told her to expect that Zoe's adoption would feature in some of her school writings, and that I was thrilled Zoe talked about it.

On Maya's form, I told her teacher simply that she was adopted, and that our family didn't have a daddy, but that for any father-specific projects, Maya was used to doing things for her grandfather.

So what do you do on school forms?

P.S. How funny! I just saw that Tonggu Mama blogged about the letter she sent the teacher about adoption. Great letter, go read it!


Anonymous said...

Warning: this comment has nothing to do with adoption! But, it does have to do with hating school forms!

I hate school forms! You are right--they ask for the same info over and over and over. It almost begins to feel like a trick--let's just see if this is her doctor's REAL phone number.

I thought we would get out of it this year since we're skipping out on "real" school, BUT NO! We had to fill out all the forms AND THEN SOME for internet school. I had to answer new and exciting questions about whether my darling daughter was pregnant and a whole host of other questions I've never been asked before!!

I don't have anything as interesting as you do to put in the additional info line. I used to wonder whether I should say something about my darling daughter's outgoing personality--a head's up, as you suggested. But, in the end, I always just left it to her teachers to figure out (which they no doubt did by the middle of the first morning of school).

I have now started saying that she carries an epi pen and a plethora of other allergy remedies so they don't throw her in jail before letting her call her lawyer-mother.

I can't wait to hear and see pics of Maya's big first day of Kindergarten!! WooHoo! I can't believe how fast she has grown up.


malinda said...

They asked if she were PREGNANT?! Because kids moving from regular school to home school might be PREGNANT?! Becuase too much time at the computer for internet school might be bad if she's PREGNANT?! Too weird.

And you made it harder for me this year, clf, going out of the country! I had to come up with another emergecny contact person!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Heh. Great minds and all...

Anonymous said...

I still used you as our emergency contact--as if a school in Texas would need an emergency contact for a student in Germany!! I'll be back and ready to serve as your emergency contact next year! clf

Anonymous said...

From a teacher's pov filling out the forms is a necessity because there are always changes of some sort. The paperwork is NOT the fun part.

But letters from parents can be wonderful, to give the teacher a heads up and to know the child is loved and cared for.

Of course it partly depends on the teacher. I wish you and your girls the BEST teachers.

travelmom and more said...

I find it very helpful to know where my students come from, and what things might influence their learning. Knowing that a child is in a single parent by choice family vs a single parent by other circumstance might change how I approach topics about family and statements made by students. When a parent tells me that their child has X learning need, or is struggling with Y, it can make a world of difference in how difficult it for me to reach that child and make a connection that will help a child learn. However, that said, I would be specific: Tell the teacher if she is shy about a topic, Tell the teacher if she is open to talking about something, explain how you talk about issues so the teacher might hav an idea about how to have sensitive conversations if necessary. I wish every parent would tell me what their child loved, hated, what they were confident about, insecure about and what types of structures helped them learn.

Anonymous said...

Never actually thought of mentioning that Simone was adopted or we are a single-parent family but then again we're quite common here. However, travelmom and more raised some cool points. For us, it's the tome we have to write about her asthma each year!

QingLu Mama said...

I just found your blog and have really been enjoying it!
And I appreciate this post, I have been debating how much to include...or how little. Really, this helped me with that decision.
As an adult adoptee (domestic) we never disclosed my adoption to the schools, although like your daughter I was very open about it and it did influence my writing and artwork.
I look forward to reading more of your posts!
QingLu Mama - Jennifer

malinda said...

I so appreciate getting the teachers' viewpoints -- thank you!

malinda said...

Welcome, QingLu Mama! I'm Year of the Rat, as well, but I bet you're 12 clicks behind me in age (I'd say 24 clicks based on your picture, but I know you adopted from China, so that precludes you from being 24 years younger than me!)

fortune fish said...

Yay! I found you.

This is just the discussion I've been needing.

DD starts K in Sept and I was wondering what to add to the info they requested, on the one hand wanting to protect privacy, but on the other wanting to include helpful info--thank you travelmama et al.

School hasn't started but I've been in twice to the office, and have a special appt. planned for DD and I took look over the classroom alone. She is anxious.

I probably already have a reputation with the office staff as one of those hovering adoptive moms I was NEVER going to be.

And the form thing in happens eveywhere, doesn't it? I wish they didn't have to always ask BUT I'm sorta glad they don't seem to have it already in some secret database!

Anonymous said...

Some years my kids teachers have asked parents to write a letter about their child and I have written something like "I adopted X from China as a single parent. My daughter is comfortable with the idea that there are all different kinds of families and I'd appreciate it if this view point is reinforced at school." I know that this particular school is cool with that. But I forgot to share this info with my younger daughter's Kindergarten teacher last year(there was also another Chinese adoptee in her class) and I didn't really feel the need to share that with my older daughter's 4th grade teacher last year either. I sort of feel like that info is "out there" and that people just know. And I think my older daughter can now explain for herself if necessary.
Sue (aka anonymous)