Parents are an integral part of a school’s community. Without parent support, schools would not be able to perform certain aspects of the curriculum, programming, or culture at preferred levels. With many parents working full time, and some with two jobs, it might seem hard to find the time to volunteer at their child’s school. However, it is time to rethink traditional parent volunteerism and look for alternative ways that parents can both work and be involved in the school community. Here at 5 ways you can get involved in your child’s learning on National Parent Involvement Day, or any day of the year.
Here are 5 ways you can be a more involved parent:
1. Plan ahead
This might seem simple enough, but many of us don’t do it. Sit down and review the calendar of events and activities. Select the few events that you would like to go to and can carve out time to go. Remember, these do not have to be all day events. They could be an hour here or there. Planning ahead will give you time to mark the day and time on your calendar and plan to work around this blocked off time. It is easier to get away from work to volunteer in your child’s classroom or school when it is planned in advance than last minute.
2. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture
Depending on where you live, volunteering in your child’s school can be daunting. We all get emails from the PTA, teachers, and the principal thanking parents for going above and beyond, chairing events, securing donations, and spearheading campaigns. While we need these individuals, these types of jobs are not for everyone. It is hard for a working parent to oversee large events. Volunteering doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It can be taking 20 minutes to be a guest reader in a classroom or helping out with an art project. You might not get recognized by the school as a whole, but you will get plenty of praise from your own child. Isn’t that worth so much more?
3. Get online
Many schools and teachers are using a variety of programs and apps to communicate with parents. Some of these tools allow two-way communication. Get involved with the day-to-day by commenting on pictures, posts, and celebrations. There’s something invaluable about familiarizing yourself with the day-to-day activities of your child and understanding what’s happening at the school. Plus, teachers love knowing that parents are reading their messages and responding to questions and polls.
4. Be present at extracurricular events
If you can’t make it to an event during the school day, make sure you can attend night events. School concerts, open houses, and science fairs always need parents to help out. This help can be as simple as setting up or putting away chairs, handing out programs, or manning a table or booth. The few hours you are there will help teachers more than you think. Plus, many schools love to post photos of events on their website and social media accounts. Think about sending in some of the photos you took at an event.
5. Join a relevant organization
While your opportunities will vary based on your location, as well as your child’s age, there are typically relevant organizations that can provide you with the 411. Consider opportunities such as the Parent Teacher Association, parents club or associated extracurricular associations (Booster clubs, etc.). If your school district is lacking in such things, consider starting your own! Connecting with other parents is a great way to get information about the kinds of things happening in your child’s life and education, and it can be a great outlet for discussing successes or problems.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at principalsdesk.org.