Working full-time and staying involved in your child’s school can seem impossible at times. Being involved in the school is more then a way to stay current on all events, it is a way to show your child you find their education important and the more involved you are, the more you get to know staff and can request teachers you see will best fit your child.
I say this as a Mom who stays home, but I used to work 40+ hours a week in the medical field until last summer when we moved. We have 2 older boys and one entering 1st grade and I have always been involved. This year I am PTA Co-President at my youngest son’s school and I have some tips on how you can help your child’s school and stay involved as a working parent.
Join PTA (Wait! Don’t get scared, give me a chance to explain)
Until I joined PTA, I was like you and thought PTA stood for Parents To Avoid at school! Please, do not avoid us! We take so much of our time meeting and planning a positive experience for your children outside of the classroom. There are 2 crucial things we need to accomplish this-money and volunteers! At the very least joining PTA just means you wrote a check and now we call you a member.
Do you have to attend all meetings and volunteer at events? No! Your money makes you a member so that IF you can attend and volunteer, we allow you to vote at meetings for agendas and positions and eat the cookies we provide. That’s it!
Volunteering and attending meetings is just extra support. So, I highly encourage you to be on the lookout the first week or two of school for that PTA packet. There should be 2 forms-registration and volunteering. At the minimum, fill out the registration, attach the check and your money is now supporting your child’s positive experiences they will have this year. That’s it.
Read those go-home packets!
Teachers and PTA live by sending you information on events through those packets or perhaps your school uses email. They are our form of communication with you. An organized PTA and classroom may provide all dates of all events by the end of September.
We know you work hard and your time is thin, so here is a way to show support. Pick one event! Many are at night and even if the only event you can do is a Thursday evening PTA meeting in March, register for PTA and circle that date on your calendar! As you read through the events, share about them with your child. When is spirit week?
Plan what you can get or do to help them dress fun and show there spirit. Going to miss BINGO night? Send your child with a bag of fun items marked ‘For PTA BINGO night’ and have them drop it at the office. Your child will see your support as they drop them off and the PTA will appreciate not having to take that extra money from the budget for prizes that night.
Plan ahead, pin up the events calendar in an open area and discuss the events with your child. It’s not about time, but a willing to help any way possible. One last note-pay attention to grocers and retailers your school asks you to link your shopping card to. By linking and shopping, your school benefits and the benefit is huge!
Collect & Save classmates contact
Remember those school rosters we would bring home with every students info in it? There is no ‘law’ against doing so as long as we let parents know and give them a chance to opt out. Many schools do not have one, however due to time it takes to maintain one. Many times, it is as simple as emailing the teacher and asking if they can share your info with “child’s” parent. Why do you need contact? You have a busy schedule and if you cannot physically attend school events, your child does not need to miss out.
I cannot name any parent who if called or emailed to say “Hi, this is (child’s) Mom and I want to ask if you will be attending movie night? I have to work and he/she really wants to attend so I am looking for him/her to tag along with a friend so they can be there”. Would you deny taking a child if you planned to go and received that message? You would jump at the chance. Making these connections is great and your child will see that you still take their school seriously and you will find a way. Come to open house with a pen and paper and be ready to chat and nab that contact!
Here is a short story to stress the importance of having this info… I had a panic call from a Mom who was stuck in traffic and was still 30 minutes out as the bus was about to drop off my son’s kindergarten classmate this year. She says “I don’t know what to do, but we exchanged numbers at the Halloween class party and I had it in my phone!” I calmed her by getting her address, calling the bus office ahead of time to alert them the situation and got to her neighborhood as the bus arrived to drop off this 5 year old boy. The driver said the office called Mom’s cell and confirmed my alert and he was safely dropped and he came to play with my son until Mom came. Contacts can be a life saver as well as a way to keep your child connected.
It is so hard and we all want to be as involved as we can. You do not have to attend every event or meeting. You can simply donate, arrange rides and send your child to school with items or ready for spirit or sports day to show your involvement. A child who’s parents support the entire learning structure will be motivated and encouraged. I used to think there was nothing I could do. I used to think I had to give time to join PTA. I wanted to makes sure you do not think the way I did. As a PTA President, time is only one aspect of help we need. There are so many other ways if you plan ahead and read those bulletins!