5 Easy Steps to Make Your Child’s Independent School Experience a Good One!

Samantha Osborne BWL Pic

RIISE thanks Samantha Osborne for sharing, from an alum perspective, wonderful & wise tips on parenting powerfully at an independent school. A must read!!! But, more on Samantha first…
Samantha grew up in Brooklyn with her Guyanese parents.  She attended the Birch Wathen Lenox School for 13 years and recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with distinctions in Anthropology and Africana Studies.  Currently, Samantha serves as a paralegal for a New York city law firm and seeking further education in Museum Studies. When not watching the Golden Girls, Samantha likes hanging out with her family!

5.  Get Involved!

I know, I know.  You have all probably put your blood, sweat and tears into the admission process, but the race isn’t over yet!  There are still years of school plays, holiday pageants, and fruitless quests for obscure school supplies (Carbon paper?  Really?). You and everyone else in the family may roll your eyes and drag your feet, but your involvement is priceless!  Just before little Sean** stands up to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, he’s going to turn his head to make sure you’re in the audience and you’re going to wave at him encouragingly.  Then he’s going to sing his heart out while you draft a grocery list. Hmmm or was that just my mom who did that? Also, having a strong family presence will make you a reliable source when the school takes on a new initiative or a prospective family needs guidance.

4.  Establish Relationships with Faculty Members Whom You Trust

Of course, you should be able to trust your school’s faculty-they are responsible for your children for half of the day!  By trust, I mean having faculty members with whom you can approach with any issues that arise.  It could be as simple as a poor math grade and you need a referral for tutoring.  It could also be as complex as a social problem and you need a better understanding of what transpired.  Considering the fact that adults struggle with proper communication, Sean probably won’t be able to communicate his angsts with you.  The faculty can bridge that gap and serve as the adult eyes and ears during the school day.  Go find that faculty member and take them to lunch or coffee.  It’s on me!  Just kidding.

3.  Make Short and Long Term Goals

If you’re just beginning the independent school process in Kindergarten, high school graduation is a bit further of a distance than the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  However, that does not mean you shouldn’t keep it in your periphery.  Now is the time to begin instilling the values and skills that will make them desirable candidates for college and-dare I say it-employment.  Decide what type of goals you want to set for Sean and discuss it with family and friends.  Also, ask Sean about his aspirations and interests and see if you can condition them with extracurricular activities.  Tip: If he says he wants to be a doctor, put it in a contract and make it legally binding.

2.  Prepare for Some TOUGH Learning Experiences

Just because there’s a strict dress code and high tuition, doesn’t mean your child is immune to the typical pressures that America’s youth faces. Minority students tend to be targeted for aspects of their identity they cannot change or hide.  So what happens when Sean complains about students mocking his religion or socioeconomic status? A situation with bullying, teasing, or a simple ignorant remark is a perfect example of why having a trusted faculty member makes a difference.   There is no easy way to deal with such issues, but communicating with a member of the school’s community will allow you and your child to process the incident more easily.  Then, explore how to address the issue to the necessary individuals and authority and prevent it from happening again.  At the end of the day, the most beneficial thing you can do is be present and open and the most dangerous thing you can do is be indifferent.

1.  Register for the RIISE Parent Power Conference!

Is there something you want to add to the list or remove?  Let’s meet and discuss it further at the Parent Power Conference!  If you really want to get the most out of your independent school experience, this will give you the tools and network to do so.  It will be so great to discuss these topics with other parents who share the very same concerns.  See you there!

**I have no idea where the name Sean came from, it just came out of me and I went with it!




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