It is almost the first school holidays, efterårferie, here in Denmark and you can really feel the energy levels of both the kids and parents dropping. I think everyone is ready for a break. I woke up this morning feeling just as tired as I did when I went to bed last night so a week of getting up when we want and chilling out is very welcome. On that note I have no big posts planned for next week but will no doubt be sharing some fun things we have done.
It has been a good first part of the year at my son’s school, and although not without challenges you would expect with the transition to formal education. One thing that has made the transition easier, certainly for me, has been the group of parents. It feels as if a genuine support network is forming.
School gates mums get a terrible rap in the UK, every year the media is full of stories and articles about the different tribes and cliques, the politics, the competitive dressing and how to cope with it. I thought such things were stereotypes stirred up by the media but tales from some UK friends bore them out. One friend whose husband (it seems the only man), who drops off her kids everyday, is shunned by the mums. Famously Myleene Klass upset her fellow parents by shaming their greedy behaviour over birthday gifts.
At my son’s preschool there was varied drop off and pick up times and I usually only saw the same couple of parents. They were friendly and I am still friends with a number of them but there wasn’t a ‘school gate’ culture per se.Now at proper school we all arrive at the same time and often children are picked up directly from the end of school so I see the same 21 parents every day. As the class has a mix of nationalities we seem to be avoiding all the supposed pitfalls of UK school gate politics. People are helpful, supportive, friendly and inclusive, in the main. We all want our children to be happy and I have also noticed how parents are also going out of their way to help each other, with job tips, recommendations, invites and just hugs when it’s needed. We have a Facebook group which gives us the chance to share ideas and help there too.
It’s a mix of mums and dads doing the drop off, not exclusively women. A mix of working parents, SAHMs with littles, freelancers and those studying. There is no real stereotype or Queen Bee. On the three occasions where we have had social events everyone pitched in and made them special. I hope the early enthusiasm will continue and friendships both in the class and outside will continue to grow. And in case everything changes I am reading this to be prepared!
I wonder if it is a mixed culture thing, a Danish thing or are the school gate politics stories in the UK just media invention? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Thanks for an interesting input to the school vs home discussion! As a recent newbie in Educational Anthropology (aside my work as a career counselor at a language center), I am very much interested in the Danish school system, and what it does to our society. Of course it is gratifying to read that we are not as far out as in other places, when it comes to queen bees etc., but I guess there are regional differences as well. My teacher at DPU, Dil Bach, has done a study on wealthy parents in Northern Zealand, and she has some interesting conclusions about the importance of training the children’s social abilities, and about certain mechanisms of hidden exclusion of not-so-“overskudsagtige” parents. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17457823.2014.885846
It’s also worth mentioning DR’s comedy program “I Hegnet”, where you have this – I guess – Queen Bee kinda mum “Emil C’s mor”, who is pestering the other mums with her f***ed up approach to motherhood and schooling.