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Slow Parenting: Getting Involved in Your Child's Education

When you decide to get involved into your child’s education, you should do it very carefully. No matter the age, you have to watch not to interfere with some natural developmental processes. To put it simply, parents who are overly involved usually end up with a child that has competence issues. If you want to avoid making such parenting mistakes, here’s how you should approach getting involved in your child’s education.

Volunteering at school

When you decide to volunteer at school as a parent, you are actually leading by example. This way, you will show your children that participating in the community and contributing in some way is important. The school benefits from the involvement of parents, but it’s not the only benefit. Namely, as you interact with a whole bunch of people, including other parents, administrators and teachers, you will get a first-hand knowledge and understanding of what is going on in the local education community.

With great power comes great responsibility

As a contributing voice, you will be able to have at least some influence on certain things related to the way your child’s school approaches teaching. This is a good chance to connect with other parents and tweak some bad elements of the system, as long as it’s fully justified. Some parents tend to fulfil some vaguely masked narcissistic goals and they can even go as far to use their position to pursue their petty vendettas. This is why it is important to communicate with as many involved parents as possible – this cultivates a healthy parental engagement and will keep you in the loop.

Stay in the zeitgeist

You will also get the chance to learn extensively about fads and trends which are defining the culture of your child’s generation. By keeping yourself up to date with current trends and insisting on staying “in vogue”, you will become a truly zeitgeisty parent. Now, the fact that you will become more “cool” is not the issue here. By understanding the youth culture of your child’s generation, you will also be able to know what sort of issues plague them.

How to approach the community

If you want to be involved with the local educational community and you are confident that you can contribute in some way, you should talk with teachers or administrators openly. Most teachers will probably point you to administration anyways, and you will definitely get your chance to discuss certain issues, make suggestions and, in turn, answer questions. If you are familiar with some useful and inventive online apps like math baseball games, and you’ve noticed this particular community hasn’t heard of it before, make a suggestion. After that, joining the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) would be the next natural step.

How to contribute

The ways in which you can contribute are numerous. If you are an expert in a particular field that is useful for the local students, you can become a mentor or a tutor. You can volunteer to help children with special needs and act as a classroom helper. You can be a playground and/or lunchroom supervisor, help with organizing extracurricular activities, cater, help out with local school theater groups, build sets, sew costumes, etc. The list of things you can do to contribute is really extensive. So, take your time and don’t worry, pick something that suits your interests the most, and you will definitely get a chance to help.

Be very clear and open about your intentions

When you are volunteering at school as a parent, it is very important to make your intentions clear and point out how much you can contribute. For starters, there is a high chance you are a working parent. This means that you have a limited amount of time you can dedicate to volunteering every day. Even if you are a stay-at-home parent, there is a ton of chores and obligations to do and your time cannot be completely devoted to school activities.

Therefore, always keep in mind why you are there – to have a better grasp of the quality of education your child is receiving and to contribute to the community. If administration or other parents begin to ask you to do more than you can take on or more than you are comfortable with, don’t be afraid to say no. If you’ve never done this before, start small and work your way from there. You don’t have to take on the role of a school play manager immediately.

Remember to look for a frequent feedback from both teachers and parents alike. You can even go a step further and become friendly with your child’s close peers. It is incredible what sort of insight you can get from kids and how much it can actually differ from what you get from teachers and parents.

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