Editorial: Get involved

School has started and parents may be invited to volunteer in their child’s classroom. While you may hold down a full-time job, already help out with your children’s sports or clubs, or have other commitments, it’s important to set aside time to get involved in your child’s classroom. The reasons are many.
First, you’ll get a chance to see what your child is doing in school. It’s one thing to get an account from your child about their day — which, in many cases, might be something like, “It was good,” or “We didn’t do much.”
It’s quite another experience to be part of the mix in a classroom, whether it’s tutoring a child, reading a story, or helping with a craft.
By experiencing what goes on in your child’s classroom firsthand, you can improve your communication with them. You would be able to better direct your general “What did you do at school?” question by asking much more specific questions, such as, “What did you think of that book?”
Also, if you observe your child to be very interested in a particular lesson or topic being covered, you would be able to build upon it outside of school.
Volunteering in the classroom enables you to watch your child’s interaction with both their teacher and their peers. Is there someone who is bothering your child? Who seems like a really nice friend to have?
Teachers often are grateful for an extra hand in the classroom — even if it’s something as simple as cutting out pieces of construction paper for a project or serving food for a holiday meal. Your “small” job can potentially save the teacher hours of time.
Some teachers may prefer to not have parents in the classroom, but there are still opportunities to get involved including volunteering as a chaperone on a field trip. Many parents offer to speak about their job to youngsters.
It’s important to remember to only do what your child is comfortable with. Many young children enjoy it when Mom or Dad comes to school, but older kids may not feel the same way.
Likewise, it’s important to remember you are not the teacher. Take instruction from the teacher and don’t try to impose your ideas unless invited to do so.
The opportunity to volunteer in your child’s classroom should be viewed as a gift, not a chore. Giving an hour or two of your time a week can give you great insight into the education process. It can also go a long way toward building a stronger bond with your child that can last for many years to come.