As a new school year begins, parents are thinking about ways to stay actively involved in their child’s education. Participation in a parent-teacher organization, or PTO, is great way to show your support, whether it be through membership or simply volunteering a few times in the school year during fundraisers or when time permits. There are lots of ways for parents to help during a school fundraiser; for example, with a catalog fundraiser, ask if you can help distribute orders when the fundraiser is finished. Even from home, you may be able to help by making signs to hang at school to help spread the word about an upcoming fundraiser and share information and important dates with other parents. If you are a busy, working parent and don’t feel like you are able to give much, remember that a few hours of help is appreciated and can make a big difference. Volunteering your valuable time just once or twice shows your child that his or her activities at school matter to you. If joining a parent group isn’t an option, it might be possible to speak directly with a student’s class teacher to offer a helping hand with tasks like reading or craft projects. Another idea for helping get involved during the school year is attending field trips, which often require extra volunteers to help chaperon and keep an eye on students. These trips are often educational and give children unique experiences in the community, but wouldn’t be possible without help from parents.
Many parents do their best to attend school events that their children are involved in, whether it be a sports game or school play. If work or another commitment prevent you from being able to attend, try to see if a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or family friend can attend to provide moral support to your student.
If, as a parent, you are interested in being involved at the level of academic policy-making, see if your student’s school has a special parent advisory club or council. These groups often help determine new administrative directions and are becoming more important in educational reform. Many school boards need candidates for different officer seats, as well as volunteers for specific committees.
When you are involved at your child’s school, remember to keep your relationship with teachers and staff productive by communicating often, staying flexible, and listening to different points of view. Frequent communication will help maintain a strong partnership with your child’s school. Although there will be times when conflict arises and parents and teachers disagree, remember: at the end of the day, the goal of parents and the school is to enrich and educate your child.