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.
While it may not always seem like it, most teens want their parents to be part of their school experience. They may not want you to volunteer for every field trip, but they do usually want their parents and families to feel welcomed, connected, and valued in the school community.
As your teen moves through the junior and senior high school years, your involvement in their school community shows them that you value and care about their education. Research also suggests that it boosts 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 teen’s school journey.
Lend your voice
Share your unique insights and ideas on what’s most relevant and important when it comes to your teen’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, subject-specific open houses, or sharing circles with parents.
Consider a volunteer role
Think about 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 or active travel committee.
- 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 teen create positive day-to-day experiences and build healthy relationships at school. Your actions can help them feel comfortable, confident, and supported. Try these ideas:
- Find out what your teen is doing at school, and how you can reinforce learning with real-world experiences at home or in the community. 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 teen. 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 identify caring adults to go to if they need help at school—like teachers, coaches, education assistants, and other support staff.
- As much as you can, go to school events and activities with your teen—even virtual ones. Try coffee houses, poetry slams, or debate nights. These are are fun and novel ways to experience school life, bond with your teen, and get to know others in the community.
Remember, parents are important partners in education. Just like educators, we want teens to be happy, healthy, and successful in life. Connect with your school community in the way that makes sense for you, your teen, and your family.
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