When is parental involvement in school activities appreciated? Our Education Writer honestly weighs in on when it’s great and when it’s just too much.
When my kids started kindergarten, I wanted to be there for everything. I volunteered to be the class mom, I attended the holiday parties, and I offered to help with classroom projects. It was exciting watching my young children find their way in this new world of school and I wanted to be a part of it.
As my kids got older, I have become less involved with the class parties and more involved with carpools and school projects. It can be difficult to know how involved teachers expect us to be as parents. I want my kids’ teachers to know that I am there to support whatever they are doing in the classroom, but I also want my kids to have a sense of autonomy and ownership in their school experience.
So how much involvement is too much? Below are some tips to help you figure out when to step up and volunteer and when to give your kids some independence.
WHEN IS PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IN SCHOOL ACTIVITIES OKAY?
1.) Volunteering in the classroom.
In the early elementary grades, there are usually more opportunities for you as parents to come into the classroom. Many teachers open their classrooms to parents for parties, special events, and guest readers. My students love having their parents come into the classroom to share a story or work on a holiday craft.
As your kids move up in grade, these opportunities are less frequent. In the middle elementary years, kids are learning to become more autonomous and responsible for their own learning. It is good for your children to experience school events more with their peers and less with their parents. Kids develop a sense of community and friendship when they work and play together and giving them time to do this has huge benefits.
2.) Class Trips.
There is nothing better than watching your children explore the outside world with their classmates. Unfortunately, there are many places that only allow a limited number of parents to attend trips. Many teachers will request parent volunteers to help out with trips when needed. It is important that you follow the guidelines set forth by your child’s teacher. If you are chosen to chaperone, know that you will most likely be given a group to be in charge of. If you are not chosen to attend, try not to press the issue.
Teachers try really hard to be fair to all of the parents in a class. We get a lot of requests to attend trips, so don’t take it personally if you are not chosen to go. Rest assured that your child will be safe and have fun without you being there. Look at it as another opportunity for your child to experience things on his own.
3.) I Forgot My Homework Again!
Kids are forgetful by nature, but even more so when they know that Mom or Dad will drop off whatever they forget. In the early years, it is perfectly ok to drop off the lunchbox left on the counter or the permission slip for the trip that was due yesterday. As your child gets older, try not to jump in so quickly. By second grade, kids can start to become more responsible for handing in homework and packing their backpacks. If you see that your child forgot to bring last night’s homework to school, don’t bring it to school for her. Your daughter will tell her teacher that she forgot it and hand it in the next day. The early elementary years are perfect for practicing accepting responsibility. The stakes are low and
The early elementary years are perfect for practicing accepting responsibility. The stakes are low and elementary school provides an opportunity for kids to learn how to deal with these issues. Many schools don’t allow students to call home for forgotten homework or snacks so don’t bother dropping them off. If my kids forget to bring homework home, we do our best to get a copy, but if we can’t, then they are responsible for explaining the situation to their teachers and making it up the next night.
4.) Tough Situations.
One of the hardest situations to navigate occurs when our kids get into trouble at school. It can be very difficult to see your child come home from school upset because a teacher reprimanded him. These situations can be very tricky to handle. It is important to listen to your child’s explanation of the events that occurred as well as the teacher’s. All kids make mistakes and misbehave from time to time. Even the best-behaved children will get into trouble at some point.
As hard as it is, try to allow your child to experience consequences at school. Kids need to know that it is ok to mess up and that you are there to support your child and his teacher. This support will help your child gain confidence and know that they can handle any mistakes they may make as they get older.
It is very important to show your child that you care about her school experience and that you and the school are partners in helping her grow and learn. If you are unsure of how involved your child’s teacher expects you to be, just ask. I appreciate when parents let me know that they will be here if I need them. Working together with your child’s teacher is the best way to ensure that your child has a successful school year.
Want to read more of our posts about grade school topics?
- My Child Needs Extra Help In School. Now What?
- Help Your Child Find Healthy School Friendships.
- Helping Children With ADHD Reach Their Potential.
- 4 Basic Life Skills Kids Lack Today.