In recent years, privacy has become a very hot topic. New updates to privacy notices arrive in our email almost weekly, appearing more and more complicated over time. Whether you run your own business or work in someone else’s company, you are required to keep your clients’ privacy. And, of course, you worry about your own privacy the privacy of your kids when you go online. But sometimes, this can go a bit too far and hurt more than it helps.
OK, so you already know our family is a bit unusual. We lived around the world, we traveled, Ronit and I are life coaches and all that. Still, I think our desire for our kids to be in the company of other kids is good, right, healthy and wholesome. This is especially true when the other kids are well-mannered, love the same activities, do well at school and can be a good influence on our own children.
Of course, if you have read enough of this blog, you also know our kids fit into the same category (well-mannered, do well, etc), even if we say so ourselves…
With these happy thoughts in mind, Ronit suggested to Noff to throw an extra non-birthday party for her classmates. She said this would encourage the kids to connect outside of school, develop their friendships and maybe prompt the other parents to host more parties for the kids.
So we picked a date and a time and started preparing. Eden made invitation cards for Noff to give her friends and Noff was supposed to add each child’s name to the top of their invitation card and make sure she invited everybody.
Due to privacy laws, the school is not allowed to give out contact lists of the students or their families, so there was no way for us to post the invitations. The only way was for the kids to deliver them.
We told Noff to ask her teacher for the list of the kids, so we can mark off the invitations and then the responses from the parents who were going to come. Of course, the teacher has an endless supply of this list for the daily roll call. To our surprise, she came back home empty handed and said the teacher could not give her the list of kids for privacy reasons.
Being a very clever kid with strong visual memory, Noff went over her classroom in her mind and named the kids around each table until she was confident she had named everybody.
The next day, Noff happily delivered the invitations to her friends.
A few days later, we got a call from one of the mothers, who apologized for not being able to come and said others may have the same situation, because the kids had many activities on Saturday. That certainly explained why we had not received many confirmations by then.
We decided to reschedule to the following Sunday and reprinted all the invitations. Since it was very close to the original date, we wanted to make sure all the parents were aware of the change, in case some were still planning to come.
Ronit wrote a note to Noff’s teacher in the Communication Book, asking her to please ask the kids to write a note for their parents in their Communication Books about the change of dates. Being a grownup communication method, we felt the Communication Book was a safer way to deliver our message.
Note that we did not ask the teacher to endorse anything or to think of the message herself. We simply asked her to help us attract the attention of the parents to the new invitations their kids would be bringing home that day.
In response, the teacher wrote this:
“I have consulted the Deputy Principal and he has advised me that the Communication Book should be used only for school matters”
Now, I do not know about you, but we thought this was WAY too far off the mark. If anything, a primary school teacher should be encouraging social interaction among the kids. The teacher had full knowledge of the content of the message, which clearly applied only to the kids in her own class. What on Earth scared her so much she not only refused by ran for cover under the deputy’s wings?!
Moreover, if this were only the teacher, we could put it down as a specific matter, but the deputy’s support made the whole thing look like the school is ignoring the biggest reason we send our kids to school – social interaction – in favor of being compliant with some locally-created rules about communication.
Anyway, at least the kids could be trusted with the invitations, because nobody showed up on the wrong day and a good number of kids showed up for the party and had a good time.
The best part is that several parents stayed with us for the party and we got to know them too. While they were here, we asked them to write down their contact details and asked if it was OK to share those details with the other parents. We got the same answer from all of them, “Of course!”
So now we can contact more parents directly, but what are we going to do next year?
If you have any advice for us, please post a comment below.