Life Skills 101- How to use a Phone

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned the “kids’ phone” in the school office. I would hazard a guess that every school office has a separate phone designated for student use and, most often, it is placed under the watchful eye of the school secretary.

As a parent, you know there are many reasons your child might need to call you during the school day. Susie doesn’t feel well, Eric forgot his show-and-tell, Addie doesn’t remember what she’s supposed to do after school, etc., etc.

In my role as “Guardian of the Kids’ Phone” I was privy to these reasons…and many more. Here’s a short list of the most common:

  • “Mom, can you come and tie my ice skates for me at recess time?”
  • “Daddy, will you come and eat lunch with me today?”
  • “Pleeease bring me lunch today- I don’t want to eat hot lunch!”
  • “Can you bring my gym shoes so I don’t have to wear my socks in class?”
  • “Mom! I forgot my clarinet and I need it before band class! When? It starts in 5 minutes so you’ll have to hurry!”
  • “Grandma, it’s Chloe. I forgot to bring 100 things for Hundreds Day.  Can you bring me 100 pieces of macaroni? Quick?”

And the list goes on. As I was thinking of kids using the phone at school it brought to mind two children, in particular.

The first of these was a boy in first grade who showed up in the office needing to call his mom at work. I checked his records for the number and wrote it for him in neat numbers on a slip of paper.

After shyly accepting the slip of paper from me, he stepped up to the Kids’ Phone like he was approaching a visit to the dentist- hesitant and full of trepidation. When he started pressing numbers to place the call, I was shocked.

Clearly, this little boy had not used a phone before- or at least not often. He would carefully look at a number on the slip of paper and then, with his finger poised about 12” above the phone, he would search the keypad for the matching number.

Once the number was located, his finger dove down like a bomber pilot zeroing in on his target. Well, sometimes it was a hit, and sometimes it was not. Obviously, when he pressed the wrong number, the whole process had to start again.

In the interest of getting him back to class in a reasonable amount of time, I intervened and helped him complete his call.  Whew!

The second child who comes to mind was a little boy who was a lot more adept at finding numbers on the keypad. He even knew his home number and didn’t need my assistance dialing.

However, once all the numbers were entered, he turned to me and said, “Miss Cathie, how do I press send?”

Obviously, this little guy was comfortable in the world of cell phones but was lost when it came to a land line.

Which brings me to the point of my blog today. Parents, please be sure that your children know how to use a phone. I really look at this as an important life skill.

Your child may not always have someone available who can help her with basic dialing skills- or number recognition, for that matter. And knowing that not all phones have a “send” button is important information for her, too.

I’d like to also mention the importance of teaching your child how and when to call 911. Here’s a short tip sheet and video that may be of help regarding that.

And finally, a plea that’s near and dear to my heart. Please, parents, be sure that all of your family’s contact information is current on your child’s school record. It only takes a few minutes to let your school secretary know that you and your husband have new cell phone numbers or that you have a new work number. Believe me, your secretary will be more than happy to update your child’s records.

From personal experience, I know that children who are sick don’t need to spend long minutes or sometimes even hours lying in the sick room waiting for a parent to be tracked down.

Update the info for your child- and do it, too, for your school secretary who doesn’t want to see your child waiting any more than you do.

So, there you have it- my random thoughts on kids and phones at school.  In summary:

  • Make sure your child knows how to properly use a phone- both a cell phone and a land line.
  • Make sure your child knows how and when to call 911.
  • Make sure your family’s contact information is kept current in your child’s school records.

Thanks for dropping by today and letting me put forth my ideas on Life Skills 101.  Let’s keep those little ones educated, prepared and safe! It’s too important to ignore.



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