Why parents need to make friends on the first day of school too

Friends Lauryn Fontbin, right rear, and Fiona Gray met through their children. Photo: Nic WalkerTwo years ago Lauryn Fontbin and Fiona Gray had never met.

But after their children sat at the same table at kindy orientation, the mothers have become such good friends that Ms Fontbin hosted a baby shower for Ms Gray.

“In the short space of two years we have become very close,” Ms Fontbin said. “We do rely heavily on each other.”

They remind each other when school notes are due, swap playdates, meet up at the beach on the weekend and have even been camping together. “School parent friendships have become really important for our sense of community,” Ms Fontbin said.

More than 90 per cent of parents believe forming relationships with other parents at their child’s school is important, according to a new Galaxy poll.

The nationwide poll of 1000 parents of children aged three-17 found that the majority think adult friendships help their children develop their own friendships with classmates, and enables the parents to keep tabs on what their child and their peers are up to.

Parents’ biggest concern when their child starts school is whether they will settle in and make friends quickly, according to the poll. The strength of school parent friendships determines how comfortable a parent feels letting their child socialise with their classmates outside of school.

Nine out of 10 parents worry when their child goes to a friend’s house without them, concerned they won’t be there if their child needs them, or they are fearful their child may be in danger.

Kate Sanchez, the co-founder of social networking site schoolparents老域名出售备案老域名, said the increasing “drop and go” culture made school parent networks even more important.

“In the old days parents would walk us into school, talk to the teacher, work on the canteen, be there at the school gate in the afternoon,” she said. “Unfortunately the reality is that [those parents are] few and far between now, which is leading to parents being a bit more insecure.”

The Galaxy poll found that although most parents would let their child have a sleepover at a friend’s place by the time they were eight years old, 10 per cent of parents would never permit it.

Parents rely on other parents to find out what is going on in the classroom and playground, and sometimes even with their own child, because they don’t always get this information firsthand. Seventy per cent of parents said their child told them only what they wanted them to know, and 50 per cent said their child didn’t tell them what went on at school. A third of parents thought it was unlikely their child would tell them if they were unhappy at school.

Psychologist Justin Coulson said children whose parents got along tended to play together. “The best relationships are the ones built both at school and outside of school.”

Ms Sanchez said most parents had an innate desire to be part of their child’s schooling experience and make it good for them. “The child has better outcomes at school the more involved the parents are, if they know Mum knows other mums in the class, that is really important to them,” she said.

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