Monday, November 7, 2011

Volunteer to Help Your Child's School or Classroom for National Parent Involvement Day 11/17


U.S. schools are at a crossroads. As education budgets and programs continue to be cut, classroom sizes keep rising, understandably frustrating today's moms and dads of students like never before. In times like this -- with no relief in sight -- I think that if us parents aren't part of the solution, then we are actually part of the problem. Rather than standing idly by, allowing the educational system to crumble upon our children, it's time for parents to take back quality education for all kids. Standing by to help in that noble effort is Project Appleseed, a non-profit public education advocate which is all about parental involvement and engagement. On November 17, the organization's 18th annual National Parent Involvement Day, parents across America are asked to help out in their child’s school.  Not coincidentally, this important day falls within the middle of American Education Week which runs this year from November 13-19.

Some of my happiest memories are as a school trip mother
Vintage family photo with my own kids on an outing,

Volunteers and adult assistants in classrooms can potentially make a huge difference, especially with schools and teachers under so much stress,” says Paddy Eger, a veteran educator with 20 years experience as a primary and intermediate grade teacher, parent trainer and volunteer, and author of Educating America 101: Strategies for Adult Assistants in K-8 Classrooms.

Eger has developed some simple strategies that allow those volunteering in schools to maximize the ways they can help while also reducing the chances that their assistance will be counterproductive to teachers' and/or administrators' own efforts. Her suggestions don't replace the formal training provided by schools but the ideas in her book can greatly enhance the time volunteers spend working directly with kids.

“With a little training and a handful of strategies, most adults can effectively assist both teachers and students," Eger says. “One hour a month or a week helping students is a small investment of time that has big returns in the long run.”

Have you helped (or plan to help) at your child's school. If so, I encourage you to share your experience of volunteering in the classroom here and if you have any advice for other parents with school age children.

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