(Family Features) For some parents, back-to-school season can be bittersweet as they watch their kids grow more independent each year. Taking on an active role at your child’s school is a simple way to provide support and stay engaged.
Whether your schedule is relatively open or you’re juggling multiple demands, there are ways for virtually all families to participate in their children’s classrooms.
Volunteer in the classroom. Today’s teachers are busier than ever, developing classroom lessons, teaching to rigorous curriculum standards, coaching and chairing extracurricular activities and tackling their own professional development goals. This can leave little down time to coordinate special activities or classroom celebrations, but that’s where parent volunteers can play an essential role.
Develop relationships with teachers. Creating a connection with your child’s teacher can be based on more than checking in on performance and behavior. Sharing resources and ideas with teachers makes you an ally and an asset to the classroom. One example is the Tom’s of Maine “Green Your School Fund,” which will give $1 million to classrooms nationwide this year so students can roll up their sleeves and tackle hands-on environmental projects to understand the impact they can have on the planet today and tomorrow. Learn more about the program and how you can help your child’s teacher submit a creative environmental classroom project at GreenSchoolFund.com.
Join a formal organization. School organizations like the Parent Teacher Association are designed specifically to engage parents in the education system. Members have a direct connection to news about what’s happening in the school, an avenue to share concerns and means for inspiring change and bringing about school improvements.
Take part in field trips. Many rich learning opportunities exist outside the classroom, but those activities are often limited by chaperone availability. Both schools and most field trip destinations require certain student-to-chaperone ratios for safety and optimal learning. Joining a classroom field trip not only allows you to share the experience side-by-side with your own child, but makes the outing possible for other children as well.
Share your talents. There are ways parents can get involved without straying too far from what they know best. Volunteering to speak at a career day in your child’s class is a simple way to share real-world experiences and help prepare the next generation of leaders. Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, many schools welcome community support to help build props or sew costumes for the school play, host a lesson on a favorite artist, share cultural traditions or help run activities like science fairs or field days.
If you’re unsure how to get started, contact your student’s teacher or the school’s main office and ask for guidance on where you can make the biggest impact.