Helping out at the canteen, getting involved with class reading groups or sharing your cultural knowledge in sessions with teachers has far more value than you might realise.
At a glance
- Kids become better learners when their parents get involved in their education.
- Parental involvement encourages kids to pursue higher education.
- Parental involvement makes kids happier.
- Think laterally about how to get involved in your child's school life.
- Seek suggestions from your child's teacher if you run out of ideas.
As a parent, you are the most influential factor in how your child views school and the community they're part of. Your involvement with their learning goes a long way towards your child becoming a capable, resilient and happy adult.
Regardless of whether your children are in primary or high school, never be afraid to ask teachers how you can get involved. In the eyes of the school, you a valuable resource. Here's why: when parents are involved in their child's school life, it leads to a happy and well-adjusted child.
Research shows that kids do better at school when parents get involved – in maths, English, their social relationships and their approaches to learning. It has also been proven that parental involvement leads to higher rates of children finishing school and higher aspirations toward further study. Some US studies even state that a parent's involvement in their child's learning is the biggest factor influencing their academic outcome. Now while that possibility could be almost as terrifying as it is encouraging, it does make you realise that no effort you make is wasted.
When parents are involved in their child's school life, it leads to a happy and well-adjusted child, who has positive relationships with teachers and peers. If you find you need to have a tricky conversation with another parent or a teacher later in the year, it feels easier when you've already met them.
Better coping skills
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from disappointments and traumas in life. Research shows that a sense of belonging to a community is a key factor in becoming resilient. Children are more resilient when they feel they are a valuable part of the community, and especially in their school community. Parents also develop greater resilience skills if they feel they are supported in their community.
What kind of involvement?
Taking part in your child's learning takes many forms: Googling information for assignments; breakfast-time spelling quizzes; or even racing across town hunting for long, black pants for the school music festival in the middle of summer.
Ways to get involved in your child's primary school:
- help at the canteen
- turn sausages at the barbecue
- help out with class reading groups
- sew costumes for school plays
- organise fundraisers
- volunteer to go on the class excursion
- hand out water at the walkathon.
The more activities schools offer children, the more opportunities there are for parents to get involved, even if it's once or twice a year.
When kids get older
You may notice invitations to help out with older kids may be few and far between as they become more independent and want more privacy. Just as you once hid the vegies in the spaghetti bolognaise, you may need to think laterally about how to remain in touch with your child's high school without it being too obvious.
Ways to get involved in your child's high school:
- take part in school camp organisation
- offer to talk about what you do for work in careers classes
- timekeep at the sports or swimming carnival
- help at the canteen (always a winner)
- occasionally take a few of your child's friends to activities
- share your cultural knowledge in sessions with teachers.