Getting Involved in Your Student's School
June 8, 2020
Research has shown that a strong partnership between home and school has a positive impact on students. Through open and regular communication, schools and families can continue to stay aware of each other’s needs and present an aligned front for students. Parents and guardians have the opportunity and obligation to support their children’s learning by engaging in their education. There are many ways to support students at home-helping with homework, motivating them to continue to persevere even when things get tough, and ensuring that they have everything they need to be successful in their studies.
Additionally, parents and guardians can choose to get involved in their student’s school in a variety of ways. There is no magic level of involvement and every family will have their own schedules and comfort levels to consider, but it is recommended that families make some effort to engage at the school in some way. Below is a list of some tips to help you find the best way for you to be involved in your student’s school:
- Attend school meetings and teacher conferences. Held a few times a year, these events can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about what your student is doing in school. School meetings allow you to meet other parents and hear about plans or initiatives from the school’s perspective. Teacher conferences are an opportunity to hear all about your student from the person who knows them best at school. Both also give you a forum to share any questions or concerns you may have, so that you can work together with the school and teacher to resolve any issues that may have arisen.
- Learn about organized groups for parents/guardians within the school. Most schools have these groups for parents to gather and collaboratively work together to support the school. Many times, these groups meet monthly and offer parenting advice and guidance from experts. These groups are also used by school administrators to share ideas and get feedback before making final plans. Once you learn about the group, you can decide if it is something you would like to get involved with.
- Ask your student’s teacher about ways to help in the classroom and what kind of support they need. Most teachers would love extra support and may have ways for you to get involved that are one-time events like reading to the class or helping with a party or serving as chaperone for a field trip. There may also be other ways that are on an ongoing basis like serving as a classroom helper once a week, coming in at the end of the month to help put together student folders, taking photographs throughout the year or helping to organize a performance. In some cases, making a donation of items or money may be a way to support the classroom. Working with the teachers to find something that works for both of you is key. Teachers need time to plan how best to use help so showing up on a random day with no notice is not be the best way to get involved. Once you learn about the opportunities and needs, you can decide what can work with your schedule.
- Communicate regularly with your student’s teacher. Develop a system that works for both of you and stay in touch with each other. For some, it may be easy to communicate by email or text once a week, for others a monthly meeting or phone call may be the best way to communicate and for others, leaving messages in Class Dojo might be work best. Whatever the process, establish a way for you to stay in touch with your student’s teacher so that both of you can develop a strong relationship in support of the student.
- Be positive about school. Your positive attitude can serve as strong motivation for your student because you are telling them you believe in them and what they are doing. If you have concerns about the school or the teachers, handle them directly without putting the student in the middle.
- Ask your student how they would like to have you involved. All students, no matter how old they are, love to have their parents/guardians involved at school because it validates their work and makes them feel important. Younger students tend to like you to be present in the classroom, while older students feel most supported when they know you are there in the stands or audience. Talk to your student about what would make them feel most supported so that you can find a way to be involved that works for both of you. It might take them a few conversations for them to finally admit, it but they want you there!