As the PTO President at my kids’ school this year my #1 goal has been to increase parent involvement. Studies show that students aren’t the only ones who benefit from parent involvement; parents and educators benefit, as well.
However, as working moms we may feel that we cannot devote the time necessary to be as involved as we would like to be. Here are some ways to get involved at your child’s school that don’t require you to be there everyday, all day:
- Become a member of the PTO/PTA. Yes, I am biased, but this is one of the best ways to be connected and learn what opportunities exist for involvement.
- Meet with the Principal or Assistant Principal. Introduce yourself as your child’s parent and communicate your expectations for your child’s education, behaviors and success. Also, ask how you can be of assistance at the school. This will put you on the radar as being a mom who cares and will be engaged.
- Meet with your child’s teacher (other than at the designated Parent/Teacher Conference time). One thing I have learned recently is that teachers are eager for parents to be involved. Not only for their child’s sake, but for the sake of the other students in their class. Teachers these days need all the help and support they can get. They will gladly welcome your participation.
- Volunteer in your child’s classroom on a regular basis (you determine how often; just be consistent). I volunteer in my boys’ classrooms once a week, unless I have a meeting or have to travel for work during my regularly scheduled time. While my boys don’t directly benefit from me being there, they are proud that their mom is there on a regular basis helping their classmates. Kid Flash can get kind of selfish and territorial at times, but what can I say? He has the best mom EVER! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I know your kiddos feel the exact same way about you.)
- Be a chaperone for a field trip. Maybe you are not in a position to visit your child’s school on a weekly basis. No worries! You can still participate. Field trips don’t happen that often, but are a perfect opportunity to be engaged with your child’s peers and teacher. Teachers appreciate when parents come along for field trips.
- Offer to help with a school fundraiser. This is a great way to interact with other parents, as well as understand the business side of how schools operate.
- Attend your local school board meetings (for parents whose children attend public school). This is an area that is often neglected, especially when your child or child’s school is a top performer. However, it is important to know what’s going in your entire school district. Attending these meetings is also a great way to learn about new initiatives and upcoming plans. Also, it is important to note that the people running these meetings (most often people you have elected) are the ones making decisions on your and your child’s behalf and you should be able to hold them accountable for making sure students’ best interests are at the heart of their decision making.
- Join school committees that are tasked with strategic planning and school improvement. Maybe working with other people’s children is not your cup of tea. Not a problem. Stay in your lane and work in a capacity that suits you and makes the best use of your strengths.
- Eat lunch with your child. I have found that my boys feel like little kings when I, my husband or their grandparents show up for lunch. And the Chick Fil A we bring doesn’t hurt either. You will also find that their classmates will be enamored by your presence and ask you a million questions, but it’s worth it.
- Show up unannounced. If all else fails, just show up and make your presence known in the building. When key staff members and teachers know who you are and that you are not afraid to show up unannounced they will likely be on their best behavior every time they see you. It keeps them on their toes because they never know when you’ll show up.