As a former classroom teacher and school administrator, I witnessed firsthand the huge impact that family involvement has on school culture and home life. Being involved in your child's school sends a message to the school that you are there to support the staff and that you are a team player. It also sends a message to your own family that you value the school and it's an important part of your life.
There are many ways to get involved with your child's school. If you work during the day and can't get to the school, there are even ways to support the school outside of the school day.
You might be familiar with the idea of a PTO or PTA group, chaperoning a field trip, or participating in fundraisers benefiting the school. But, there are even more ways you can be involved. Below are some other ideas that might resonate with you.
1. Read Aloud to the Class
It is such a treat for a child when a family member comes to school to read to the class. Your child's favorite book, a new release that you can leave behind for the class, or a book from your own childhood are all great reading choices.
If you can't make it into the classroom to read, try using a video conferencing tool such as Skype, Hangouts, or FaceTime to connect with the class and share a story.
2. Prep Materials
As a teacher, I spent many nights in front of the television cutting out laminated materials, collating packets of work, or stapling paper together to make blank books for my students to create stories.
Ask your child's teacher if there's any prep work you can help do from home. Or, you can visit the classroom and help prepare materials needed to make your child's day full of learning opportunities and experiences.
3. Lend Your Skills and Talents
Put your career or job skills to use for the school. If you're a graphic designer, help out with a school flyer. A florist could donate or offer discounted flowers for the graduation ceremony. A restaurant worker might lend serving dishes and utensils for a teacher appreciation luncheon.
Share your talents or expertise with the teachers. Everyone has something that could be beneficial in a school environment. I've had a musician parent share songs with students, a dentist parent provided toothbrushes, a mom who worked at McDonald's had her manager donate gift certificates to the school, and a dad built planters for an edible garden in the schoolyard. What are the skills or talents you can share?
4. Be an Advocate
One of the simplest but most powerful things you can do to support the school is to be its advocate. Talk to other parents and encourage them to attend school events. Encourage families who are unhappy about a situation at school to talk to those involved. Call the school when you have a question or concern. Working together is more productive than anything else you can do.
To get started with any of these ideas, send a note or make a phone call to your child's teacher. Chances are the teacher will be thrilled to hear from you and happy to work around your schedule.
Your child's school and your family will be rewarded through these involvement experiences. Plus, your message that school is important to your family will ring loud and clear to both your child and the school.
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