Involved parents equal successful schools and students
I was scratching my head trying to come up with an idea for this education column when my wife interrupted my thoughts to let me know that she wouldnt be around much over the next few days; she was too busy working on helping to put together the North Tahoe High School Prom. Then it hit me (it usually does take a ton of bricks to get through). One of the most important factors in the success of students in the Tahoe-Truckee area is the high level of parental involvement. It is actually quite astounding how much time parents spend working for the schools, whether it is in the classroom or in a variety of other ways.Todays parents start out working in elementary school classrooms a day a week or chaperoning on field trips. The Parent Teacher Organization holds book fairs and runs the walk-a-thon. By middle and high school, parents join multi-day field trips, help organize proms and graduation parties and put on big fundraising events. For some parents, involvement is not just a few hours, but a major undertaking. Parents organize and lead the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program, which includes a multi-day trip to Yosemite or the Marin Headlands. Parents arrange for and stage jazz concerts throughout the year, take charge of band uniform and instrument rentals, drive academic teams to competitions and athletes to sporting events (some of which are many hours away). They help with class picnics, walk-a-thons, project graduation and homecoming parades. And all that is before they get home and help the kids with homework (one advantage of my children getting to high school is that their homework is way too complicated for me to help).An example of parental assistance is the Tahoe Sierra Century. This bicycle ride, a fundraiser for the North Tahoe Middle and High School band programs, now attracts more than 500 participants and requires hundreds of woman and man hours every year most of it by parents. While some of us are lucky enough to depart Squaw Valley early in the morning for a day of riding, others have been at it for hours setting up the rest stops. Committees begin work on the Tahoe Sierra Century Ride just a month or so after the last ride.Parents assisting schools has become a key part of our current education system. Whether it is because of budget constraints or a push by parents for more and better programs for their students, parents are now actively assisting teachers and administrators from the time little Joey hits kindergarten to when he graduates from high school. Parental help gives teachers more time to focus on teaching and enhances the experience for students. In addition, when kids see their parents working hard to help their school it emphasizes the importance of volunteerism hopefully when they become parents they will not only help in the school but the rest of the community as well. In fact, it must be working because by the time they reach high school, many children of active parents have already begun their volunteer careers by attending leadership classes and committees that help run school functions.From a parents point of view, being involved with the school helps provide a better education for children, but it also enables the parent to keep closer tabs on what is happening with their child. I am not sure about whether there are statistics to support my belief, but it is my opinion that when parents are involved in their child’s schools, the kids will perform better. When education is made a high priority by the parents, children understand its importance as well.If you are a parent of a child in our local schools and havent found a way you can help out, contact the principal of your local school. I am sure they would be happy to put you to work.Tim Hausermans latest book, Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children was recently published by University of Nevada Press.
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