No, you do not have to be PTA president like I was. Volunteer in some way for some event at the school. Take time to go into the classroom. Talk to the teacher about chaperoning field trips. Go in and help with a special project. Your involvement can take on any form, but be present.
From the time my oldest was in preschool I got involved. I joined a parent advisory board. We met once a month and talked about the school and what we saw for it. It was a great start into my involvement in the schools. I learned a lot in that year about the state laws surrounding education and it also gave me a great relationship with the teachers. In my mind it was helping the shy quiet girl (which is my oldest) to stand out.
That advisory board eventually led to involvement with our elementary schools FRC (Family Resource Center) where I joined PEP (People Empowering People) and I helped our school and our community. I planned a stranger safety night as a part of that. Eventually that led to more involvement in the PTA where I pushed my way in and ended up taking over fundraising and then was voted president of the PTA.
Two years ago I left behind that position which I held for 3 years because we moved. Over the past two years while I have taken a huge step back I am still involved. I still go to the classrooms and talk to the teachers. I was room mom in my middle daughter’s class last year. I have gone into school to help preschoolers put together macaroni men and gingerbread houses.
It was all for my kids. They never knew when I would be there and sometimes they didn’t even see me there, but they always knew it was a possibility. And I will tell you this, teachers that my kids never had know who I am in the store. That means a lot to me that the staff know that I am a parent of a student at their school.
Where Do You Belong?
PTA/PTO president or officer is not for everyone. And I will not lie to you it’s tough to have that kind of responsibility. It is frustrating dealing with administration and other parents though. The good news is not everyone can be an officer though. So if it’s not for you that’s fine. If it is, then go for it. I still cherish my time as PTA president. And even though I don’t see myself doing it again, I know what I did was important.
Go to the meetings though. You will learn so much about what’s going on in your child’s education. What the school board has planned. Special events. What curriculum is being used.
Go ahead and sign up for something. Cheering an event if you’re so inclined. Room mother/father. Helping out with fundraising. Wherever your strengths are, don’t be shy. This is for your child.
Maybe that’s not your thing. Talk to your child’s teacher and ask him/her if you can help out with anything in the classroom. When my oldest was in 1st grade I used to cut things out for projects they were going to do. Pieces to put together turkeys. She gave me what she needed done and I did it for her. Chaperoning field trips is always important too.
These things help you keep tabs on things that are happening in school with your child. You will really get to know the teacher and you’ll also get to know the students too. Even if you work and can’t be there during the day you can do a lot of this stuff at night. PTA/PTO meetings are usually held at night. If they aren’t or you work at night you can still get updates of the meeting minutes so you can figure out if there’s an event you’ll want to cheer or at least help out with set up or clean up. There is always something that can be done to be involved no matter what your other commitments are. You just have to figure out what you want to do and what your priorities are.
It Doesn’t End In Middle School
Being involved is just as important in middle school as it is in the early grades. Your involvement will be different and it will be likely for different reasons. And you might have to be less obvious about it.
Of course my break in large scale involvement came when my oldest started middle school. I kind of had to take this break. I had 3 kids in 3 different schools. I couldn’t commit to one and then have a need arise at another child’s school. There is after all only one of me.
While my involvement became more on an involvement in my kids life than the school life, I have still been involved. Parent/Teacher conferences are always attended. I maintained email communication with all of my daughter’s teachers. When a problem arose I called for a meeting to discuss it. All events that we were invited to from the 6th grade orientation to the AVID program welcome we have attended.
I’m sure as she goes into the high school next year there will still be involvement in events. Whatever to make their school experience a positive one and as easy as possible. If I am there and seeing the interactions between my children and their friends and teachers, then I can head off problems or know best how to handle them.
So involvement does not always mean PTA/PTO. It does not mean you have to give up everything. It does not mean that you have to say yes to everything either. Saying no is acceptable, but don’t always say no. Let there be a few yeses in there. It’s important for your child’s education that he knows that you value education. And what better way to show that than actually being in the school supporting the school?
How do you get involved in school?
So far in this Back To School Guide I have told you how to get your child on a schedule, preparing lunch and snack, and tackling the paper clutter. If you’ve missed any of those be sure you check them out. And then come back tomorrow for the final day in the Back To School Guide. I will share with you how to handle the anxiety of the first day back to school.