As parents, we all want to see our children succeed in school—both academically and socially. Simply being involved with your child’s school will give your student a leg up, experts say. According to the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), students whose parents are involved with their school are more likely to earn higher grades, score higher on tests, enroll in advanced programs, exhibit good attendance, possess better social skills, display better behavior, graduate, and pursue post-secondary education.
Participate in the Parent Teacher Association
One easy way to become involved with your child’s school is to join its PTA organization, attend and participate in PTA meetings and, if your schedule allows, volunteer to serve as a PTA officer in your school. Typically, local PTA officers organize fundraising events and fund activities and classroom and school upgrades that benefit teachers and students, and instill a sense of community within the school. Becoming active in your school’s PTA is just one way to become active in your child’s school.
Volunteer as a Classroom Helper
Consider offering your services in the classroom as a reading or math buddy, or an extra pair of eyes and hands to assist with classroom tasks (shelving books, photocopying worksheets, watching the class so the teacher can spend individual or small-group time with students, etc.). Many teachers are challenged with large class sizes and few resources so may welcome help from a parent.
Volunteer in the Lunchroom
Young kids often have trouble extracting their lunch foods from their packages and Tupperware. They may need help carrying their lunch tray from the cafeteria line to the table. They’ve been known to spill things (sometimes all over themselves). Extra hands are always in appreciated in the lunchroom! As a bonus, if you become a familiar face, you’ll get to know your kids’ classmates by name and face. And you’ll get a better idea of what your child’s day is like.
Offer to Translate
If you’re bilingual, you can volunteer to translate written school correspondence for non-English speaking parents. You can also volunteer to translate during parent-teacher conferences or school open houses.
Participate in Career Day
Many schools sponsor career days, and invite parents and grandparents to talk to their student’s class about what they do for a living. This is an easy, fun way to become involved with your child’s school. Even if your child’s school does not have a career day, and you have a career that kids find fascinating (you wear a uniform, you work with animals or bugs, you are an artist or musician, etc.) you could consider arranging a presentation on your own.
Serve as a Chaperone
Most school districts schedule a certain number of educational field trip opportunities per school year. Students may visit local museums or zoos; attend movies, concerts, or plays; visit farms or nature preserves; etc. Excursions expose kids to places and events they may not otherwise experience, and they often dovetail with in-classroom instruction. These outings aren’t possible without a certain number of parent chaperones!
Especially at the beginning and end of the school year, you may feel bombarded with back-to-school and other meetings, school performances, class parties, etc. Attend as many of these as you’re able! Not only will you be in-the-know, you’ll become a familiar face to teachers and administrators and other involved parents. When a need for parental input or assistance arises, it’s more likely you’ll be invited to participate if you’re known as an active parent. Plus, when you attend school events you’re sending an example to your children that school is a priority.
Being an active parent doesn’t have to require a big time commitment. Keep your eyes and ears open, and you’ll find there are plenty of ways to get involved, ranging from one-time to ongoing opportunities. Teachers, administrators and students appreciate whatever time you have to give! And you’ll be helping your child at the same time.