Getting Involved at Your Child's School
Building Family and Community Driven Schools
Every parent hopes his or her child will succeed in school and has an appreciation for learning. As the dynamics of families have changed in the last few decades, with two working parents or fathers choosing to stay at home with children, it’s important to recognize that it is simply not enough to encourage your kids to do their homework and read a book.
According to a research review done by the National PTA, there is a positive and convincing relationship between family involvement and student success, regardless of race/ethnicity, class, or parent’s level of education. Essentially, the more engaged parents are about their child’s education, the higher the likelihood their child will not only succeed in school, but also have an appreciation and love for learning.
While some parents might be excited at the prospect of helping at their child’s school, it’s always best to know how to be of most use to your child’s school before throwing yourself into your child’s education head-first.
Evaluating Your Time
Before you attempt to begin assisting or volunteering at your child’s school, it’s always best to evaluate the amount of time you can devote to being at school. It’s admirable to want to devote time to school, but it should be done without increasing personal stress at home. General housework, errands, and prepping the family dinner also takes time and planning. Without good time management, giving up too much time could throw your family’s home schedule out of balance.
Consider how much time you’ll need for normal housework like cleaning, laundry, and cooking as well as shopping, errands, and also making personal time to relax.
Being Useful at Your Child’s School
Once you’ve evaluated how much time you’ll be able to devote to volunteering, the next step is finding out what you might enjoy doing with your volunteer time.
If your school has an established group of volunteers already working in the school, consider meeting with their representative to find out what kind of activities are available for you to help with. Check with your school district to see if a criminal background check is necessary before being able to volunteer.
Based on the needs of the school, there are a host of possibilities where your help could be incredibly valuable.
- Classroom Helper – For elementary schools, classroom helpers help clean up after projects, assist students with classwork, monitor student behavior, and watch students if a teacher must leave the classroom.
- Homework Helper or Tutor – Parents with enough knowledge in the areas of math, science, or writing are very useful to students who may need more help after school.
- Cafeteria Monitor – Schools with large cafeterias benefit from having extra pairs of eyes and hands to watch students and help anyone who may need it.
- Field trip or Special Events Chaperone – For school field trips, parents are often assigned groups of students to monitor or help keep students in line while on school busses. Chaperones are also needed for events such as sports or school dances
- Club Organizer – for smaller schools with smaller faculties, parents could set up clubs (chess, robotics, computer, book club, etc.) to offer students some extra-curricular activities
- Administrative tasks – freeing up staff from having to run around the school for various tasks (office runner, mail delivery, making copies, etc.) makes staff available for more important tasks
- Librarian Assistant or Page – School libraries often operate on limited budgets and staff. Offering to shelve books, help students find resources, or helping them to use library computers is a big help to librarians.
- Theater Set Builder – Parents good with construction can lend a hand to the theater department when they need sets built for school plays or events.
- Speak at Career Day – Career Days help students get a better idea of what various jobs are like and gives them a chance to get firsthand information
- Fundraiser Organizer – After school clubs and school bands often need funds to participate in larger events or buy things they need to stay in operation. Parents well-versed in running fundraisers can be an invaluable resource for funding projects.
It is always helpful to not only speak to the volunteer coordinator at your child’s school, but also speak with your school’s counselors and principal to see if there are other places you might be of use besides traditional roles.
Supporting Schools in Disadvantaged Areas
In many schools around the country, mZany families may find a difficult time providing their children with the basic school supplies they need for school. For parents who have experience with fundraising and running organizations, this is a great way to give back to the entire school and teaching your children the importance of helping people in need.
School supply drives in the summer months help communities come together and help provide students with everything they need to start off the school year right and help ease the financial burden on struggling parents. Companies like School Supply Boxes take out the need to run around from store to store collecting all the school supplies your students need during the year.
Partnering with School Supply Boxes to create custom school boxes ensures every student in your school gets the same great quality school supplies they need to start the year. Consider speaking to your school’s counselors or even with district level personnel to see if there would be a need for an organization that could gather school supplies or raise funds to purchase school supply boxes for your district’s schools.
Give Back When and Where You Can
Many parents forget education doesn’t stop when the school bell rings, and their children are home. Parents who take an interest in their child’s school and education are greatly increasing their child’s appreciation for learning.
Whether it’s reading to your child at night, helping them with homework after school, or even being a presence at their school and lending a hand, it is important that parents not only encourage their children at home, but also support the school environment where they spend the majority of their day. Speaking with teachers and administration on a regular basis and getting involved builds a better relationship with the people responsible for educating your child and helps you make better educational decisions for them.