14 Ways to Help Your Child's School


Haven't got a lot of time to spare? No problem. Pitching in at your child's school is about quality, not quantity.
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Lend a Hand

The day I visited my son's first-grade class to read a copy of my children's book and discuss how books are made, I probably got as much out of it as the students did. They may have learned about the writing process and how the words made their way from my computer to the hardcover book they passed around, but I was able to watch how my son interacted with his classmates; I saw firsthand how the teacher used his dry sense of humor to discipline; and I got to spend some time exploring the classroom. Plus, what better reward for volunteering than witnessing that huge grin plastered on my son's face because his mommy was the center of attention.

Every study shows that children are more likely to enjoy school, perform better, have higher self-esteem, and be more successful in life when their parents actively participate in their education, says Tim Sullivan, publisher of PTOtoday, a magazine for school-parent group leaders nationwide.

Volunteering at school is a great "do as I do" example-setting activity, Sullivan says. "Mom and Dad demonstrate that school is important to the family and Junior takes note." It's also a great lesson when a working parent gets involved even in a small way, he adds. "The message is: 'Wow, Mom is so busy, but she still makes a point to do what she can for my school.'"

Of course, not every parent has the time to do weekly playground duty or volunteer in the cafeteria on a regular basis. It helps if you're an at-home mom or dad, or have a flexible work schedule. But it is possible to have a full-time job and still find time to be involved in your child's school. The challenge is to find effective ways to participate that work for both you and the school. "More schools are getting creative with involvement in recognition of the time demands on today's parents," says Sullivan.

Of course, not every parent has the time to do weekly playground duty or volunteer in the cafeteria on a regular basis. It helps if you're an at-home mom or dad, or have a flexible work schedule. But it is possible to have a full-time job and still find time to be involved in your child's school. The challenge is to find effective ways to participate that work for both you and the school. "More schools are getting creative with involvement in recognition of the time demands on today's parents," says Sullivan.

If you can't volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis, consider using an occasional vacation day to chaperone a field trip or help with a special class project. Even when you can't get to school, you can send in cupcakes, help plan a class party or make a few phone calls from the office.

Schools also need parent volunteers for projects that stretch beyond individual classrooms. You can learn what's going on by attending parent-teacher organization meetings. Sullivan suggests presenting your availability, your skills and your passions to the teacher or school officials and working together to find how the school might use your help.

Continued on page 2:  Get Involved

 

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