Everyone has a stake in public education and their local public schools. Strong public schools ensure thriving communities – places with a strong economy, good job prospects, engaged citizens, an emphasis on the arts, and generally a good quality of life. But it is parents who have the shortest window of time. They only get to educate their children once, and they want strong public schools now!
Parents, we can be part of what causes schools to be great! Research shows us that when parents are engaged and taking an active role with their children’s schools, student achievement goes up and schools have better academic results. Those results include higher test scores, better grades, stronger attendance, and higher graduation rates. The best schools are schools where parents are welcome and are part of the school community, working as a team with teachers and administrators to ensure that all children receive a high quality education.
To get involved, start with your child's teacher and let him or her know that you want to be an active supporter in the classroom. You will find some great opportunities there. Be sure to get to know the school's principal as well, and let the principal know you want to be actively engaged with the school, through PTA, PTO, parent committees, and other groups parents can be involved with. As you offer your support and involvement, you will see great dividends for your child, the school, and all of the students.
If you are concerned about something at your child’s school, don’t be afraid to speak up. Parent opinions matter. For example, many parents believe that having the appropriate play time and recess for children is very important — not only to academics, but to the general health of children. A healthy child has the best chance at success. This is exactly the kind of issue parents should be aware of and should provide input on to their children’s school. Do you know how much play time your child gets each day? If not, it’s time to find out!
Sometimes an issue such as recess has to be taken up with school boards; parents are perfect messenger for this. When we believe that certain things must be in place for the success of our children, we must take action. Never underestimate the power of an informed parent doing things the right way.
My own experiences being engaged with my children’s schools showed me that parents can make a big difference in the success of a school. Like many parents, I started out as a room mom and helped with parties. But a few years down the road, I was part of a committee to interview a potential principal.
At Parents for Public Schools, our mission is to engage, mobilize and educate parents to support and strengthen public schools. At PPS, we know that when parents have information and develop their advocacy skills, they can be a huge boost to the success of their children’s schools!
Anne Foster is the national Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools. Before that, she was an elected school board member for nine years in Texas and a public school mom.
Find tips and resources to make recess great at your child's school in the Playworks Playbook.