10 Ways to Get Involved in Your Child’s School
Assuming an active role in your child’s school experience may be more valuable than you think. While many factors contribute to academic achievement, students reap the benefits when parents are involved in their education. According to the US Department of Education, students with involved parents generally have higher grades and test scores, better attendance, more motivation, better self-esteem, improved graduation rates, and a greater likelihood of pursuing a postsecondary education. It’s time to jump in and get involved!
Finding the Right Role
Examine your strengths to determine how you can make a lasting impact. A behind-the-scenes person might enjoy setting up for special events, while others may prefer a more visible leadership role in the school community. Consider whether your talents would be best used working with children or adults.
Next, look at your schedule and consider how much time you have to spare. Would you prefer to become involved in the classroom regularly or on a committee with limited meeting times? Regardless of your schedule or personal style, there are countless meaningful ways you can get involved in your child’s school.
A school council or advisory board assists the principal in fulfilling the school’s core values or mission statement. These organizations often include parents, teachers, and other members of the school community. Such an organization is a perfect venue for parents to learn about school issues as they emerge and then raise concerns, offer recommendations, or make suggestions. Committees are generally task-oriented, allowing small groups of parents and teachers to focus on specific issues related to the school community.
It’s never easy to be the new kid in town. Matching new students and their families with host families connects newcomers with people willing to answer questions and offer assistance. As a member of the school’s newcomers committee, you may work with other parents to coordinate a welcome picnic and an informational meeting for new members of the school community. If empathy and hospitality are your gifts, this could be the committee for you.
Join the School Crisis Team
School crisis teams are often comprised of a small group of parents, teachers, school support staff, and the principal. These teams are responsible for establishing and fine tuning a protocol to follow should a crisis occur. Parent volunteers can play an essential role by volunteering to design and implement phone chains if information needs to be disseminated to the school community efficiently. Parents may also be asked to organize a place for members of the school community to gather and process crisis events together. Take-charge and empathetic people are perfect candidates for this committee.
Be a Room Parent
Calling all social butterflies! If you like spending time with children, consider serving in your child’s classroom as a room parent. Teachers often look for a small group of parents to plan fun events for the class, including holiday parties and birthday celebrations. Room parents usually contact other parents in the classroom to coordinate food and activities for these special events. If you are organized, creative, and a natural events planner, this could be the place for you.
Assist in the Classroom
Working with kids and watching their learning unfold can be very rewarding. Ask your child’s teacher if there are any opportunities to volunteer in the classroom. Teachers often appreciate a set of helping hands during busy learning times such as writing workshop or center exploration. Spending time in your child’s classroom gives you a sense of the classroom culture and how your child relates to his or her peers, too.
Be an Administrative Angel
If you like making copies, collating packets, designing bulletin boards, cutting out shapes, or organizing materials, ask your child’s teacher if there are projects she’d like you to work on. Having someone help with the busywork involved in preparing for an upcoming unit or event can be invaluable. Your child’s teacher might ask you to handle monthly book orders, prepare center activity supplies, or organize books. This behind-the-scenes role is perfect for the well organized, task-oriented person.
Raise Funds for Your School
Schools are always looking for ways to supplement their education budgets. Join or form a committee at your school designed to brainstorm fundraisers that will raise money used to enrich all aspects of school life. There are several ways to raise money for your school. Look into General Mills’ Box Tops for Education or Campbell’s® Labels for Education™ as easy ways for all families to contribute. Or check into fundraising programs that exchange money for old cell phones and printer cartridges. Try launching a wrapping paper/gift items drive to raise money. Or go high-tech with online fundraising opportunities that offer a percentage of sales at “shopping malls” linked to popular stores such as Amazon.com. The fundraising opportunities are limitless—you just need a little creativity and a team of dedicated parents.
Be a Super Chaperone
Teachers need parents to accompany the class on field trips or to special events. When your child’s class leaves the school, parent chaperones help keep track of students in unfamiliar surroundings. Chaperoning allows you to learn and experience new things with the students while spending time with your child and his or her classmates.
Put Your Writing Talent to Work
If you can gather information and write a well-organized paper, consider putting your talent to work by writing grants for your school. The school staff is constantly searching for innovative ways to improve education, yet limited budgets often hamper their efforts. Grant writing is the perfect solution to this common funding problem! There are thousands of grant writing opportunities offered to both public and private schools. You can volunteer your writing talent to work with teachers who have targeted grant opportunities. Even if you don’t have previous grant writing experience, there are many resource websites available to those who are interested in grant writing. The hours you put in writing the grant could mean big rewards for your school.
Connect with the Community
Learning a new concept is infinitely more meaningful when students understand the way it relates to the real world. Join or create a committee that helps your school create partnerships with local businesses or organizations. Field trips allow kids to learn abstract concepts in a more concrete way. Enhance a unit on nutrition with a trip to the local grocery store, visit the pet shop to add some pizzazz to a unit on animal habitats, or boost a unit on government and politics with a trip to the town hall. Allowing children the chance to hear from and speak with the experts on these topics gives way to more authentic learning and support members of the community.
Getting involved in your child’s school experience will benefit your child and the school in many ways—but don’t underestimate how these experiences will benefit you! Feeling connected and making a contribution to something you believe in may be the greatest reward of all.
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