If, in the name of science, you want to cause stress in the life of primary school parents there’s one sure fire way to do it. Just change what the children have to wear in school on one day and then stand well back.
To amplify the effect, the following would be recommended for consideration:
- be slightly unclear about the date for this variation in uniform
- pick a time when parents are already emotionally rollercoastering along on their own journey towards a critical event over which they have little control
- e.g. religious festivals, transitions across key stage or school, national charity events like Sports or Comic relief
- include the information at the foot of a newsletter as part of a much longer list
- also, use Comic Sans pt size 10 or another any off-beat font to dissuade reading
- if asked, tell parents you told them already in this month’s newsletter, text, radio broadcast or personal address by the Head
- this reinforces their sense of powerlessness to control even the most trivial variations in their life
- forget that parents are only half-listening anyway
- What was that last one again?
In short, for pre-stressed parents, finding a Christmas sweater for their child has the potential to festively and royally de-rail their normally stable emotional centre.
How can a sweater have such an effect?
Well along with applying one or more of the above top 5 tips, it’s probably worth stepping back a bit and looking at these two graphs about why people think they were bullied in 2016. Take a look at the top reason.
Schools are so nurturing, so accommodating and probably unlike any other setting a child will ever experience, aside from their own family unit, when it comes to putting their needs first. Schools with the best intentions may quietly tell a parent;
“It doesn’t matter really – just something red would be fine!” or, “Just send them in with their usual one on and we can put some tinsel on it for them.”
In reality, most parents, having once been in primary school themselves, don’t hear these kind offers as intended. They want their child to ‘fit’ or if they’re going to stand out it’ll be for having the most awesome sweater ever made. Back in the day when primary parents were in school it is very possible that the top reason people thought they got bullied was no different to the 2016 survey. Judging by appearance in today’s society has arguably never been more shamelessly normalised by popular media and at some time probably everyone has been guilty of doing it. Even us perfect people.
The instinct to protect offspring is hard coded and seemingly trivial things like Christmas Sweater day can be a trigger for this instinct to kick in. People act out of character.
Should this kind of thing be kept out of school?
It’s a difficult question to answer but perhaps, in amongst everything else that school leaders and teachers bear in mind every second of every day for every child, by stepping back a bit and seeing where parents are journeying from and to we’ll all have an even more wonderful <insert religious festival or special event name here> time.
Wishing you all the best!