When Parents Get Involved

 

I remember when I was just starting kindergarten, learning my letters and numbers, and how much I loved seeing my mom at the school being a classroom helper.

She would read with my kindergarten classmates, help on field trips all through elementary school and often do craft prep in the evenings at home.

My dad helped build our school playground and my mom sat on the parent council as secretary.

She was a part of my school life and I never felt embarrassed that she was there helping, and in my childlike way, was actually proud to have my mom at the school.

Fast forward many years and I stepped into my son's kindergarten class to help cut yarn for a weaving project. My son waved at me with a big smile on his face and said to his friend, "That's my mom, she's here to help.”

And that did it for me. I became a staple at the school. From helping on field trips, to assisting with school carnivals and book fairs, and eventually taking on the role of chair of the parent's advisory council.

Studies have shown that being involved in volunteer activities for your children has a positive effect on their grades, their test scores, their self-esteem, school attendance, as well as their school behaviour.

The benefits move beyond your own child. Other students also reap positive effects, including being given the opportunity to communicate with other adults, develop role model relationships and in the case of minority parents being volunteers, it helps expose children to cultural diversity.

Benefits aside, for me it was about being visible to my children at a place they spend six hours a day, and in return them knowing that I knew and cared about what was going on in their lives.

Me volunteering encouraged them to look at opportunities in their school to volunteer. My daughter helped set up the book fair, my son ran the concession at the soccer fields. The effects move so far beyond my time in the school hallways.

Last year I stepped down as chair from the parent advisory council and took a year off from those responsibilities. My son told me he was a little disappointed. He took pride in telling his friends his mom was the boss (his words) of the PAC.

Truth be told, I missed knowing what was going on. I had to look in their backpacks for flyers because I hadn't already heard about the latest fundraiser or school event at a PAC meeting.

This year I'm back on that same PAC, helping with the book fair and hoping my kids will, 20 or 30 years down the road, walk into their kid's school, and do their best to be a discernible influence on their education experience.

Amber Regamey Marsh