Happy New Year,
It’s the start of a new year and a time to assess where we want to put our time and energy. Our children’s education is important to us and we want to ensure that things are going well at school. One proven way to encourage positive outcomes is to not only support the children but also the teachers. And we can do that by getting involved. Let’s take a look at why that matters and what it can look like.
Parent Involvement: The Canadian Way
“I can do this! Finally, something I can actually do!”
When I raised my hand to volunteer, I was now going to be coordinating the kidney foundation screening program in my kid’s elementary school.
It wouldn’t be so tough. All I had to do was recruit a few helpers to coordinate having the kids pee in a bottle. How difficult could that be?
My kids were in a French elementary school in Quebec. I was taking French classes but was for all intents and purposes an Anglophone with barely functional French. So getting involved with the school was a challenge. However, for me, not being involved was not an option. So with my absolutely awful French I jumped in.
And, now I was involved in a real project.
Kidney testing day arrived. All the volunteers I’d contacted arrived, even the unilingual francophones. Yep, I really could do this.
The nurses arrived with all their paraphernalia. I greeted them in true Western Quebec fashion, in both languages. With relief they said: “Oh thank goodness you speak English, we don’t speak a word of French.” They figured I’d be able to explain to all the French-speaking children about peeing in a bottle. Not going to happen.
As my heart sank, the Vice-Principal of the school took me to her office. Now remember, this was a French school so all the teaching was in French. The Vice-Principal, a woman I really liked, was a francophone but now, in perfect English, she said, “It looks like you may need a hand here. Let’s work together on this project.”
By the end of the day the nurses left with their supply of urine samples, the Vice-Principal returned to speaking French and I thought to myself, I knew I could do this.
Only in Canada.
Parent Involvement in the School
Getting involved with your child’s school is a good move. Studies have shown that when parents are involved, kids do better. The presumption is that when they see us taking on a role in their school, they understand instinctively that education is important to us and therefore should be important to them.
Our kids also benefit from having the primary adults in their lives working together. You are your child’s first teacher, you will be their ongoing teacher and you are the major influence in their lives. But they also spend many hours with teachers in school, so the more you and his teacher understand each other, the better you can both support your child.
Who’s Got The Time?
I bet that the minute I suggested you get involved all you could see was your already over-loaded schedule, your long to-do lists and the laundry piled up by the washing machine.
But you don’t have to invest hours and hours of your time in being involved. There are lots of ways to be involved; the trick is to find a way that fits with your schedule.
So What Can You Do?
It’s important that you do your best to attend the parent-teacher conference scheduled early in the year. They tend to be short but it’s a good opportunity to meet your child’s teacher and find out the basic expectations for your child this year.
Also, show up for the parent advisory council meeting. You will meet other parents and become aware of the culture of your child’s school. You also meet the principal and often a guidance counselor or teacher. If, during the year, you have any problems, you won’t be dealing with strangers.
There are jobs big and small that parents can help with. If you like to fit your volunteer time into one event then be one of the volunteers for the annual book sale or sport day. If you prefer scheduling an ongoing commitment then volunteering in a classroom or working one-on-one with a child who needs special attention will be for you.
On the other hand, if you’re a policy wonk and want to sense of the bigger political picture, you may want to work on the executive or even at the district level.
Maybe getting to the school just isn’t going to work for you. Talk to the teacher. Maybe she needs a parent to act as a phoner or emailer from time to time. If you have access to a photocopier you may be able to help by making copies of worksheets or flyers.
Whether it’s an hour over the full school year or three hours a week, your involvement in your child’s school will pay dividends.
And you may just make some good friends along the way.
Two kids, two temperaments. Taking their unique temperaments into account.
Sarah is shy, Jared is bossy and Pat is easy-going. What do we need to know about different temperaments?
Every child is unique and different. My mini guide e-book, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses some of the temperaments we see in our kids.
I looked at my two children who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.