When my son started school last year, I knew it was an important time for him, but it was also important for us as a family as well. He was beginning a new chapter – one that he was very ready and excited for – and we were too! It had dawned on me that we were starting a relationship with a school that we’d be involved with (whether we liked it or not) for at least the next seven years.
I was anxious that as a working parent I wouldn’t have much regular contact with the school. So I decided that the best way to help myself to feel in control was to get to know the school, the teachers, and other parents. I wanted to make new friends too!
So I employed two tactics:
- Make contacts
In the first settling in weeks, I spoke to as many of the other school parents as possible – we have now formed a closed class Facebook group where we can share ideas, get help understanding homework (for year 1!) ask for emergency help with pick ups and remind each other when important dates are coming up.
- Join the PTA
I knew that there was a PTA at my son’s school as I’d met a number of parent representatives at the ‘pre-starting school’ events. They were always there serving tea, sharing their positive experiences of the school and generally welcoming people in. So I took the plunge and volunteered too. I started out as an extra pair of hands to herd the children at the school disco, and have become more involved whenever I’m able to.
Why was this good for me?
- Knowing my son's school
Joining the PTA has been just one of the ways that I’ve been able to get to know people at the school, from the headteacher and teachers, to other parents. When I do venture in to the school playground or go to school events, I do so with confidence and I feel ‘at home’.
- Having fun!
I really believe that the events that are largely run by the PTA are fun. Whether it’s a hectic and exhausting disco for the pupils, the meticulously run Summer Fair or a parents only quiz night, they are great for bringing the school together as a community. Teachers, parents and pupils alike get stuck in and enjoy themselves.
- Understanding the nuts and bolts
Being part of the PTA has helped me to understand how things in the school work. Our PTA is well supported by the teachers, and is being increasingly valued for how it supports the school.
- Being the best
I want my son’s school to be brilliant. I want the school to provide the best education and experience for my child – and I recognise that that includes more than just great teaching. The experiences that the children have while at school include what’s run (and paid for) by the PTA.
- Role modelling
I enjoyed school and remember being really proud that my dad was always there for the summer fair manning the BBQ. And I know my son feels the same (at the moment – he is only 5!). I have since learnt that there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that when parents are engaged in a school, a child’s attainment is improved… so that makes it an even more compelling reason to get involved.
I have to admit, I was initially a bit anxious about getting involved with the PTA – I had visions of being expected to commit large chunks of my time to the school, but that’s not the case. The truth is that any help I can provide is very much appreciated, it gives me a huge sense of satisfaction and I’m having fun too!
Tell us about your experiences. Comment below, like and share via social media. Keep up to date with our latest news and blogs on Twitter @Parentkind.
Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.