This weekend is our elementary school’s annual Pancake Breakfast. We go every year, more for the used book sale than the food. I am a sucker for discounted books. One of the organizers asked me to list the information on KidsOutAndAbout.com, but as I was adding it, it occurred to me that this is another piece of random advice for families with young children. If you have no particular plans to move away from the neighborhood, your kids’ future school can provide opportunities for cheap entertainment that will help your child get acclimated to the “big kid” school environment.
Generally speaking, getting in touch with your local school is a good idea. I think that most public schools want to know that your children exist so that they can make projections for future enrollment. Especially this year, with so many teachers’ jobs on the line, it helps administrators plan for your kids. If you’re not getting any communication from your local school district, you can call the district office to make sure that they know about you.
Many schools have special reading programs or story times for incoming preschoolers. Even if they don’t, some school libraries will allow your child to visit if they’ll be attending later. This is a change of pace from your usual library visits.
Programs at the school vary widely, and for some, you won’t even want to attend when your child is a student. We have a couple of events per year that involve loud music in the gym with about two-thirds of the boys running like maniacs while the parents stand around making loud small talk and asking each other for Tylenol. Clearly, I’d skip these. Your best bet is to ask parents of older kids or a school secretary for recommendations about the best, most appropriate events. Breakfast, lunch, and carnival fundraisers are ideal. They’re generally open to the public, but it’s mostly the school crowd. Recruit neighborhood friends to come with you so that you don’t feel friendless among strangers. Take the opportunity to walk the halls and look at displays. There are usually great big-kid role models performing or helping at the events. When I realized that M is so old that her Girl Scout troop is actually helping with the event this year, I almost cried, because I’ve been attending the breakfasts for years and those helper-girls were always so sweet, so kind, and so very, very old.
Even after your kids hit elementary-school age, there’s still plenty of entertainment at upper schools and colleges. Mark your calendar for the spring musical, sporting events, music concerts, dance recitals, or academic competitions like Odyssey of the Mind. It’s an opportunity to support the youth in your community while inspiring your kids, and many events are low- or no-cost.
Which reminds me, there’s a Screening of “Miss Representation” followed by Panel Discussion at Schenectady County Community College tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 pm. I’m pretty annoyed, actually, because I want to see it, but we’d already planned a date night to see Guster. And I even thought about going for the first movie part of it and then rushing off to see Guster at 8 pm, but I thought that it would be difficult to enjoy music immediately after the consciousness of my oppression as a woman had been heightened. Which I say to be funny, but also? Completely sincere about that. Anyway, if you’re interested, here’s the trailer. For Miss Representation. Guster, alas, is sold out.