What Kids Need: School Boundaries

We’ve been discussing the interpretations of the 40 Developmental Assets for Youth from the Search-Institute.  Today we’re looking at School Boundaries.  In general, schools are good about establishing the various rules and policies that make-up what we might call school boundaries.  Often, they do not enforce them consistently, or in some cases, not at all.  Inconsistent enforcement causes conflict and confusion amidst students and parents when it comes to making comparisons, which both students and parents are fond of doing.  Kids need boundaries at school, which may be much more strict than those boundaries in a smaller setting such as a church or family home.  As an assistant principal, kids would debate school rules with me at times. I would remind them that specific regulations are needed to create boundaries because of the large number of students packed into a relatively small building.  Society functions differently in different settings depending on the purpose and focus of the environment.

School boundaries, truancy policies, tardy policies, leaving campus during the day, classroom policies and procedures are all examples of those boundaries that are often established.  The key is in consistent enforcement within the building ich can vary if there are more than one person in charge, such as in most high schools.  The school administrative staff must agree on the enforcement of the school rules which serve as boundaries.  Parents can help as well by being families with the rules and policies of the school in advance of the situation, which triggers a suspension or conference.  Extending support for the school in their efforts to enforce the rules is very helpful as well since their job is made difficult by the number of students in a variety of settings.

Boundaries are something that kids want and need in their lives.  They will often tell us, adults, differently, but I can testify as a teacher, educator that kids like rules and like them enforced consistently.  Nothing bothers kids more than to see what they think are similar situations handled differently.  I encourage all parents to take time to read the student handbook, given to students at the beginning of the school year.  Ask for a copy of the front matter and take time to read it.  Go over it with your child and make sure they understand what the implications of their behavior can be.  These guidelines are often posted on the school’s website or should be. If they are not encourage the Principal to do so.  There is also school board policy, which in general, is a generic framework around which the school handbook is written.  When in doubt, refer to the school handbook first and then the board of education policy.

Take time to know the school boundaries and work with your child to understand them.  Increased resiliency will result, which will last a lifetime.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich