Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to school - what should you be thinking about?

Milk forms, pencil cases (do they even have them anymore? :-)), backpacks, laptops, iPads, mobile phones, the "in" clothing, the latest loves, hates and's back to school in North America. And parents are thinking about everything they need ot do to get their kids in school, learning and safe.

I will be publishing a series of blogs for parents on what they need to know. Simple themed tips to help you get through this in one piece.

Let's start with an easy one, cell phones:

Most schools have official or unofficial policies about cell phones on campus. Find out what they are. If the school doesn't permit cell phones in classrooms, don't think that a note from you will suffice to change this policy. Nor should it.

Cell phones don't belong in the classroom unless the teacher has a project designed to use them. They are distracting. They facilitate cheating on tests (the students take a pic of the test and text it to someone in the hall for answers). They waste time. They can be used to hurt other students or allow them to hurt your child.

If the school allows cell phones in lockers, support the rule. Remind your child that you control the cell phone and if they violate school policy with it, they lose it.

Show restraint. I know you would like to be able to reach your child whenever you want, fo any and all reasons, or sometimes no reason at all. But they are in school. If it's important, call the school office and ask your child to call you. If it's an emergency, do the same. If it's to send a message, the office works pretty well too.

Treat text like a call. If they are supposed to use the cell phone, it means text as well as calling. Don't encourage them to violate the policies, and don't allow them to violate it on their own.

Get their cell phone insured. They lose it, drop it into puddles and wash their jeans with the cell phone in the pocket. They are stolen, dropped under the bus and tossed like frisbies. It's worth the small insurance charge. It may also be insured already under your homeowners' insurance or with a gold or platinum credit card purchase.

The GPS is more valuable to find a missing phone (where they left it) than to find a missing child. But it can do both, easily.

Limit their ability to spend money with the phone on apps, games and offline items.

Know your plan, with free calling hours, numbers of texts and anything else that can sneak up on you.

Check their photos, videos and downloads often. Sexting is a serious and growing problem and an image of a classmate naked can result in serious sex offender criminal charges.

and finally remember one thing - you are the parent!
if all else fails - tell them to do it becasue you said so! :-)

Heck, it even sometimes worked for our parents. lol