Originally published: March 2022
In this article, we use the term parent broadly. We include all adults who play a primary role in caring for children, including biological parents, stepparents, grandparents, foster parents, guardians, aunties, uncles, and the like.
As the saying goes, the parent is a child’s first teacher. We help our kids learn their earliest lessons—how to tie their shoes, how to be a good friend, how to ride a bike, and so much more. Yet as our kids grow, they settle into their school journey and become more independent. It can sometimes feel like they don’t need us to play a role in teaching and learning anymore.
In fact, most children do want their parents to be part of their school experience. While they may not ask us to volunteer for every field trip, they do usually want parents to feel welcomed, connected, and valued in the school community.
By getting involved in your child’s school experience, you show them that you value and care about their education. Research also suggest that you boost their chances of success—students whose parents are engaged in school tend to do better, stay in school longer, and enjoy school more.
Here are some practical things you can do to support your child’s school journey.
Lend your voice
Share your unique insights and ideas on what’s most relevant and important when it comes to your child’s education. Alberta schools value parent voice—they want to know what matters to your family and community, and they aim to use your input to shape decisions.
Here’s what you can do:
- Take part in consultations that solicit parent feedback—most schools and school authorities will seek parent input on annual plans, budgets, policies and procedures, and other priorities.
- Go to trustee forums or school council meetings—if you can’t make it, read the minutes or ask for recordings.
- Fill out parent surveys, like school climate surveys or other assessments.
- Tune in for casual gatherings, both virtual and in-person. Some schools offer drop-ins with school administrators, grade-level meet-ups with teaching staff, or sharing circles with parents.
Consider a volunteer role
Consider volunteering, inside the school walls or out. Schools in Alberta welcome, respect, and value parent volunteer contributions. Most offer a variety of ways for you to share your time and talents. Ask school staff what you can do that makes a genuine contribution. Here are some examples:
- Help out with school committees, like the school health action team
- Organize walk-to-school or bike-to-school events or meeting spots
- Collect donations for the school breakfast or snack program
- Set up student art or cultural displays
- Support community clean-ups and greening activities
- Build sets for drama or music performances
- Take part in cultural or heritage events and celebrations
- Care for the school garden during the summer months
Learn alongside your child
Help your child to create positive day-to-day experiences and build healthy relationships at school. Your actions can help them feel comfortable, confident, and ready to learn. Try these ideas:
- Find out what your child is doing at school, and how you can reinforce learning at home. You’ll find great information on school websites and in emails, e-newsletters, blogs, and social media channels. Some schools also offer parent education sessions, orientations, open houses, and the like.
- Take a few minutes each day to check in with your child. Ask them what they’ve been up to at school and how things are going. Give them your full attention. Help them brainstorm solutions to any challenges they might be facing, and make sure they can name caring adults to go to if they need help at school—like teachers, education assistants, bus drivers, and lunch supervisors.
- As much as you can, go to school events and activities—even virtual ones, like online school plays, music shows, or cultural celebrations. These are are fun and novel ways to experience school life, bond with your kids, and get to know others in the community.
Remember, parents are important partners in education. Just like educators, we want kids to be happy, healthy, and successful in life. Connect with your school community in the way that makes sense for you, your child, and your family. The perks will follow.
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