Title: Back to school, part 2


        I am now in my second week of working with a fresh batch of twenty eager, smiling, and wiggly first-graders.

        My first priority is to get to know these children. I establish a positive relationship with them and their families.

        How can parents do their part in strengthening the ties between home and school? Make a new yearís resolution to get more involved in your childís school.

        Schools vary in their need and desire for parental involvement. Most schools welcome it in one form or another.

        Contact your childís teacher. If you have more than one school-age child, chances are you will be most needed in the class of your youngest. The younger the children in the class, the more they will need adult supervision in a variety of activities: reading groups, story time, math centers, art projects, computer tutoring, class parties, and field trips are some of the activities that need more adults than are employed in the typical classroom.

        This doesnít mean you should overlook your older children. Pre-teens and teenagers will not want to be seen in your presence and will tell you that your efforts on their behalf embarrass them. At the same time, they appreciate that you care enough to spend time at their schoolís activities.

        If you have the time, consider volunteering for school-wide activities. Palo Alto is blessed with very active PTA and site council groups: scrip sales, PTA meetings, site council meetings, and a vast assortment of fund-raising opportunities await the parent who would like to make a difference on the school level.

        When you participate at your childís school, you are sending a vital message to her: school is important. If it is important to you, it will be important to her.

        Strengthen that connection throughout the school year by attending parent-teacher conferences, open houses, science fairs, literacy fairs, school plays, and fund-raising events. Buy scrip from the PTA.

        Author James Baldwin observed that children will not listen to their parents, but they will imitate them. Itís a truism that explains our understanding about actions speaking louder than words. Take action: do something to help at your childís school.

Jay Davidson has been teaching in San Francisco since 1969; he teaches first grade. He is the author of Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents, which is available at Amazon.com and bookstores for $12.95. He can be reached through his Web site at www.jaydavidson.com.

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson.  Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use.  There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication.  To receive that permission, contact   Jay Davidson