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
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