The start of the school year is the perfect time to think about volunteering at your child’s school. Any time you can spare would be beneficial. As a more involved parent, you increase your child’s opportunities to be successful in school. Being involved, to whatever degree possible, not only helps your own child but also improves the overall quality of your school. It also keeps you “in the loop” about what’s happening at school. Even if your volunteer time is limited, you can still have a presence in various ways.
Here are seven simple ways parents can participate at their child’s school:
Meet your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Ask how he or she likes to be contacted, e.g., email, phone, written note, etc. Ask how you can help at home.
Join the school’s PTO or PTA, and plan to attend as many meetings/events as you can.
See if the school has a handbook or school policies pamphlet and get copies. These usually address year-round issues such as discipline, dress code, tardiness and absenteeism, etc.
Check backpacks every night for homework or project assignments, important school calendars, announcements, etc. Keep all important school notices in one particular place for easy access and referral.
Volunteer to help in the classroom if your schedule allows, or with fundraisers, events, or other after-school activities.
Set up a special homework place and limit distractions. Have a distinctive homework folder and make sure completed homework is put in the folder and then into the backpack each night.
Limit electronic entertainments during the school week and encourage reading. Visit your local library, or swap books with friends and neighbors to read with your child.
Simple, proactive “getting involved” actions like these can make a big difference in your child’s early school experience.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.