PARENTING TODAY: Get involved when it comes to your child’s education

There is a piece of paper sitting on the kitchen counter. You try to ignore it. It won’t go away. You try to throw it away but you know that’s not right, so it just sits there.

It’s a notice from Briana’s school. The first parent advisory committee meeting of the year is scheduled for next Wednesday evening. And you are available? You checked. But, oh, why should you go? You’re so busy. You’re so tired. The meetings are so boring.

You should go because it matters.

Children look to their parents to understand the world and determine what really matters. You are your children’s first and primary teacher and when you show your concern about their education by being involved, they also see it as important. This is backed up by research that shows that parental involvement in the school is closely related to child success in school.

It is also shown to lead to decreased absenteeism, improved achievements and improved perception of school and classroom climate. When parents are involved in their child’s education their success rate improves. That alone makes it a good reason to attend.

But what about the actual parent committee meeting? If it’s boring, do something about that. Pay attention. What’s boring and how could that be improved? Do you have a friend who could be encouraged to come to the meeting to speak on an interesting issue like bullying or computer use? Speak up.

When the meeting is getting bogged down in detail, suggest a committee study the problem and report back. Or stand up and summarize the discussion and suggest that it’s time for a vote.

There is real value for you and your kids when you attend the meetings. Be proactive; help make your parent committee the best in the district.

Get to know your child’s teachers. Your child will benefit from having the important adults in her life working together. When you know her teacher and understand the culture of the classroom, you can more easily work with your child to handle the day-to-day challenges of being a child and a student.

The best way to initiate a relationship with your child’s teacher is to attend the parent-teacher conferences. Don’t wait until you have a problem; meet the teacher at the first available opportunity. Then if there ever is a problem, you are not dealing with a stranger, but a colleague. You and the teacher are working together to educate your child.

Besides what’s happening in the school, pay attention to the bigger picture. Do you know who is on your local school board? Who are the trustees and what do they stand for?

During elections and by-elections pay attention. If you can volunteer to help the candidates you support, do so and let your children see your involvement.

Even if volunteering is just not possible, you can vote. Read the literature, talk about it around the house and involve the kids. Let them know why you chose to support certain candidates.

Education matters. We all believe that, but do we act on it? Being involved and voting when there are elections, paying attention to the education practises and plans for the school will benefit our children and our society.

Let’s support our school trustees, administrators and teachers and let our children know that their education matters. Everyone will benefit.

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