Parental involvement is critical to ensuring a student’s success on the academic and social front. But the challenge is always time. Between work, home life, and countless other commitments, it can be difficult to offer much by way of participation in school activities. Here are some ways you can carve some moments to get more involved in your child’s school.
1. Commit to attending at least some PTA/PTO meetings
Parent-Teacher Associations (http://www.pta.org) and Parent-Teacher Organizations (www.pto.org) are the primary place for getting involved at most schools across the United States. Each one will vary in terms of how
often they meet, what kind of events they hold, etc.
While it may not be possible for you to attend every single meeting, commit to at least one per month or one every two months. You will be able to keep up with what is going on at the school.
2. If the timings are bad for you, reach out to the PTA/PTO president and ask for alternative
Contact the school office and get the contact information for the president or other executive member of the PTA/PTO at your child’s school. Explain your dilemma and suggest days and times that work for you. For example, if they hold meetings right after school, suggest they hold another one in which the same topics are covered during one evening or weekend meeting the same week.
You can also suggest that the meetings be accessible via Skype and Facetime if being physically present is impossible.
3. Contribute with your strengths and interests
If you love to cook or bake, you can send a dish for the perennial PTA/PTO favorite fundraising activity: Bake sales. If you are good with technology, offer to put together the newsletter and send it out via text and email; if you love gardening,, offer to start a community garden at the school, so that all kids, but especially students from low-income families, can eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Whatever your interest, hobby, or forte, figure out how you can contribute. Your participation will show your child that you value his or her academic success, as well as the school in particular. It will also show the school your interest and commitment.
4. Set up a tour of your workplace
Offer to help students interested in your career to come tour your office and spend some time gaining some mentoring and advice from someone in a field they are interested in.
5. Chaperone during field trips
You don’t have to commit to every one, but do this at least once during the school year. Take time off or a half day from work if you have to.
6. Donate supplies
You can donate school supplies, big ticket items like computers if you work at a place that either sells or makes them, a used car or van, or any materials the school can use.
7. Organize a field trip
Based on what your child is studying in class, you can offer to plan a field trip. For instance, if Islam is being covered in Social Studies class, you can arrange a trip to a local Masjid; for a physics class, a trip to an amusement park to study motion in roller coasters; for a unit on dinosaurs, a visit to a natural history museum. You can do all of this without having to be physically present. It just takes some online research and calls to set it up.
8. Offer to be the class family messenger
This is a way you can stay up to date while helping other parents do the same. If there is a paper copy of a class newsletter with updates, offer to send it to parents via email, phone via text or WhatsApp. You can even set up a group specifically for this.
9. Offer to be a translator
Many schools have parents whose first language is not English or find difficulty communicating in it. Offer to be a translator for them. Specify what days and times parents can call you for this.
This can also be useful for homework. For example, in a Muslim school, for Arabic class, non-Arabic speaking parents can get help from Arabic-speaking ones when it comes to homework and test preparation in the language. Something similar can be set up for French, Spanish, Latin, etc.