Getting Involved

Parent involvement is a major factor in the success of any district. Parents are their children’s advocate and the link between school and home. The element of school that keeps most parents updated on their child’s day-to-day educational experience is homework. There is more to knowing about the school than the helping with or the monitoring of homework. Even if a parent works full time, as many do, there are ways to get involved with the school community. Schools welcome parents as part of their environment and often have activities spread throughout the entire day that allow for parents to take part when they can.

Elementary schools often invite parents to work as volunteers supporting learning during the day, but any school welcomes the support that parents offer when they can. Some typical school events with which parents can assist include visiting for lunch on special days, chaperoning field trips, reading to classes, helping with celebrations, assisting on field days, or manning sign in tables in the mornings or at extra-curricular and sporting events.

It is important to find out what requirements are part of the volunteer process at your child’s school. Getting prior approval from the teacher or administrators, signing in, showing official identification, and wearing an identification badge are probable expectations in line with most school policies and procedures.

There are several national parent organizations and your district has an affiliation with one of them. Most people refer to these groups as PTOs or Parent-Teacher Organizations. The school most likely has a local group and that group is a member of a national PTA group. As non-profit organizations, PTOs work to raise money for events, work with schools to identify and carry out needs of the particular building, support teachers in their efforts to create a positive learning environment for the children, and maintain a line of communication between the school and the families of its students. These groups schedule regular meetings during the school year, often enough to develop clear communication, but not excessively. Check with your school to find out how to get involved with the group for that building.

The National PTA and National Education Association both support a “10-minute rule” that says children should have 10 minutes of homework per day for each school grade. Whether your experience follows that guideline depends on your child, his or her teacher, and the school.

Advisory councils and committees
Districts and schools have ongoing projects, some major and some routine. Often parents and local citizens are included on councils or committees to ensure that the entire community has a voice in decisions or activities related to the young people who are part of the area. Committee topics include items such as extra-curricular event planning, school zone lines, remodeling or building new facilities.

School board meetings
Your district’s school board meets regularly, usually once a month, to establish and review policies and goals. Meetings may be more frequent if needed, usually based on the size of the district. The district calendar is posted on the main website and indicates if the meeting covers regular business. Community members may attend these meetings. Each district has a procedure to follow if a citizen wishes to address the board. Contact your district office for information about gaining permission to speak to the board if you wish to do so. Note that there may be specially-called meetings closed to public visits.

For regularly scheduled school board meetings, an agenda is available. Local board minutes and news reports provide a record of what discussions and actions take place at board meetings.

Where to learn about opportunities
Your school and its parent organization (e.g., PTA or PTO) have information about how parents can be involved with the school. Ask your student for notes or newsletters sent to parents. Review your child’s teacher’s information sheet from the beginning of the year and stay in touch with the teacher as the year progresses. Visit your district’s website or follow it on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay abreast of current information.

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