In this Confessions of a Partially Proficient Parent blog post, Julie Poppen, an editor and writer for Education News Colorado and the mother of a fifth-grader in the Boulder Valley School District, questions the last-minute posting of class lists at her daughter’s school.

The wait is over. At precisely 1 p.m. the day before school started this week, we found out what teacher my daughter has and who her classmates will be.

Families showing up for the first day of school.

I don’t know how it happens at your school but the parking lot of my daughter’s Boulder campus was full, cars jockeyed for spaces, kids jammed their bikes in the racks, and throngs of parents and kids milled about for several minutes before the door was officially opened. The energy in the air was by turns nervous  and excited.

My daughter, now officially a fifth-grader, had trouble sleeping the night before “the list” was posted.  It’s only posted for an hour, by the way, so if you miss this window you better have a stand-in check it for you because the front office won’t tell you. It’s confidential – so confidential that the entire school community can enter the school and see it during that precious 60-minute period.

Question: Why can’t schools publish this information – or even inform parents by e-mail – much earlier in the summer?

Let’s face it, the beginning of any school year is pretty stressful for kids and parents. Transitions are hard for most families. The daily schedule is tossed on its head. Students must adapt to structure once again and yet another teacher’s expectations. Teachers must get used to 30 new personalities and learning styles.

Now I realize these lists probably get tweaked up until the bitter end. And I also know the school leaders don’t want to give us parents too much time to make a stink if we aren’t happy with our child’s class placement.

But put the kids at the top of this equation for a minute. The start of school would be much less anxiety-producing if a child had several weeks – or hey, even a few days – to digest the knowledge of who her teacher would be, and maybe even the names of some of her classmates. Then the throngs of people could show up the day before school with that knowledge and with the sole intent of meeting the teacher in a relaxed fashion.

Meanwhile, it seems teachers are given a bit more time to mull over his or her class roster. When we showed up in my daughter’s new classroom, the teacher addressed students by name. I was impressed and am expecting a great year. I just wish my daughter had had the same opportunity to get her head around the beginning of her final year of elementary school.

I’d love to hear from some teachers and principals about this last-minute, list-posting phenomenon.

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