A Father’s Guide to School Gate Etiquette
If you’re new to parenthood, try googling “school gates” and a whole new world of drama and politics will reveal itself. The seemingly mundane daily chore of dropping off and picking up your kids is, in fact, an elaborate social choreography. Yet, most of the strategic advice focuses on mothers. What about dads? How can dads manage the minefield that is the school gate? Fear not because we’ve put together a handy short guide to help you navigate the first few months until you find your feet.
Good manners for the school run
The main purpose of school drop-off and pick-up is to make sure your kids arrive dressed, watered, fed and happy in time for class and then collected at the specified time. It’s not about the grown-ups and keeping this in mind will help you deal with the more competitive parents.
2. You are all in this together
You and your child are joining a community that you’ll both be part of for years to come. You don’t need to make best friends with other parents but don’t rule out the possibility. It takes a village to raise a child and parents often call on each other for help, e.g. when they’re running late and need someone to pick up their offspring.
3. Keep a cool head
Undeniably, there are people who have little else to do in life and for whom the school community represents an opportunity for power games. You’re no longer a teenager though and you have what it takes to steer well away from drama. Never judge other families or patronise the unfortunate souls who’re sending kids off to school for the first time. They’re probably trying their best to figure out what’s happening.
4. Dress code
There’s this whole debate about what people should wear for the school run. If you’re on your way to work, you may want to check out our business suits which are stylish, comfortable and with plenty of pockets to fit in all the stuff your kid may ask for along the way. If work isn’t your next stop, then just try to strike a balance: the school run is not a catwalk but showing up in pyjamas is unfair when your child had to put on a uniform.
5. Remember the small person
Your school gate manners reflect on your child. Getting on with other parents will probably get your kid more playdates, especially in the first few months before they form solid friendships. Behaving inappropriately, e.g. flirting or networking to promote your professional ambitions, may penalise your child. You can always make friends and connections elsewhere but, for your child, this is their entire social life.
6. The volunteering trap
Throughout the school year, you’ll find there are numerous calls for volunteers to partake in committees and organise events. Although this relates to the sense of community that every school tries to instil, it’s important to be honest about the amount of time you can spend on these. It’s better to decline from the start than drop out halfway through.
Fathers on the school run are in a privileged position because they’re often ignored or treated as a rare exotic bird, which means they’re left out of strategic games. However, if you take on this task, you should make an effort to embed yourself in the network of parents as your kid will be spending a fair amount of time around them and possibly also get invited to their homes.
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