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Parenting Doesn’t Stop at the Classroom Door: Parental Engagement at School

March 17, 2014

By Sunny P. Chico

A parent chaperones a child at the zoo.

From the day children are born, all the way through high school, 92 percent of their time is spent at home. Only eight percent of their time will be spent at school. Go ahead and do the math: 13 years of school from kindergarten through 12th grade, 170 days of school each year on average, 6 hours of school each school day. When compared with 365 days in a year and 24 hours in a day, you can see just how small a portion of our children’s lives is spent at school.

What we do as parents is vital to the kinds of people our children grow into and how much success our children will have, both in school and in life. We have to be involved. We are the only ones with enough opportunity to be a strong, consistent influence in our children’s lives. It is up to each of us to make sure our children’s needs are met, but that doesn’t mean that schools don’t play their own role. Schools and educators all share the same goals for your children that you have: each of you wants your child to succeed. Make it a priority to work with the school to be involved and engaged.

Visit the school.
Don’t wait for an invitation-- just go. You can even plan to visit when teachers or staff aren’t expecting you so you can see how the school regularly works. Remember not to disrupt students during the school day, though. Make sure dropping by is allowed at your school by checking with the school office first.

Volunteer at the school.
It doesn’t even have to be in your child’s classroom. Ask the teacher or the principal where they could most use your help.

Join councils and committees.
Get involved in the decision-making and let your voice be heard. Even though children only spend eight percent of their time in the classroom, if you are involved in that part of their lives as well, the values and skills you promote at home are more likely to be present in school as well.

Chaperone field trips.
Take time to spend the day with your child and learn new things together.

Stay for the game.
Don’t just drop your child off at sports practice or a game. Watch him or her play and interact with others. You will learn about his or her strengths.

The extent of your involvement with your child’s school life will always depend on what fits into your schedule and what makes sense for you and your family. Making an effort, no matter how small, shows your child that you care about his or her education, that you believe education is valuable, and that you believe he or she should value it as well.

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