Studies show that parental involvement has a direct positive benefit on students' academic achievement. If you're looking for new ways to support your child's school outside of volunteering in the classroom or donating to the school fundraiser, here are seven ideas on how you can help make your child's school a better place:
Join the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), or school advisory board. Your school's PTA (or similar organization) is one of the most important links between you and your child's school. It is designed to enhance school-parent communication and help parents be more involved in their children's education. PTA will help you get to know teachers and other parents and learn the most effective ways to suggest and implement changes at your school.
Enrich the learning experience. Great schools do more than teach students what they need to know for standardized tests. Find ways to enhance your child's classroom. Talk with the teacher or principal about potential enrichment activities and ask how you can help. If your child's teacher is interested in offering students learning opportunities outside of the classroom, offer to help coordinate and/or facilitate.
Share your knowledge. Perhaps you have an interesting job, hobby or life experience that you could share with a class or group of classes. If leadership is your strength, consider devoting some time to coaching a sports team or advising a fledgling but important student group.
Improve communication. At any school, good communication with families is a key to success. You could help create a parent newsletter (or improve the newsletter your school has) or start a phone tree. Ask your child's teacher how you can help him or her stay connected to classroom parents.
Be an advocate for your school. Sometimes, being a resource for your school can be as simple as writing your school board members or legislators about issues that are important to the school. Attend a school board meeting on behalf of your grade or class or in support of an initiative. If you see an area of improvement at your school, explore the proper channels to voice your ideas.
Help increase financial and other resources. Aside from school fundraisers, there are other ways you can help your school secure needed funding or supplies. Help research or apply for federal or private grants to benefit specific school programs. If you have access to materials the school needs, why not make a donation?
Help other parents. If you are bilingual, you could volunteer to help translate at parent-teacher meetings or translate signage and materials for the school. Volunteer to provide transportation for students or parents to attend functions they could not otherwise easily attend. If you have particular expertise, offer to host a parenting seminar and share your knowledge with other parents.
With a little creativity, you can find many ways to help your child's school be an enriching academic environment—and a vibrant and welcoming community for all students and their families.