6 Key People to Know at Your Child's School
Photo: Jack Hollingsworth/Thinkstock
The principal runs the show and sets the tone and culture for the entire school. She solves problems, creates rules, polices the students, manages the staff, acts as a mentor, evaluates classrooms and, most importantly, constantly communicates with everyone from the teachers to the parents to the school board. It's a complex job and one that can't be done without parent support.
Most principals were teachers at one point too, so they're quite familiar with classroom dynamics, working with children and the importance of parental involvement. They'll often make an effort to engage and help parents feel welcome, but don't hesitate to be the one who reaches out.
Find out if the principal is holding any meetings, orientations, events or open houses to get to know parents, or consider working with other parents to host your own "meet the principal" breakfast or coffee hour.
In addition to informing the school nurse about any health conditions your child may have, you can also use this meeting to learn about the school's health policies, screenings (such as vision and hearing), signs that your child is too sick to go to school and how you can best stay informed about health alerts throughout the school year.
Knowing the room parent is a great way to stay informed and get more involved in what's going on in the classroom. He will let you know about upcoming class events, projects, celebrations and volunteer opportunities.
If your child's classroom doesn't have a room parent, make an effort to get to know at least one other parent in the class. You can help each other stay up-to-date on important classroom information, get clarity on certain issues, have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and share helpful suggestions for how to deal with problems that may arise.
Your PTA leaders are at the forefront of changing policies, improving schools and taking action to give a voice to every child, including yours. Getting to know them ensures that your voice will be heard when it's time to act, and your input and experiences can help shape the educational changes that will take place at the school and in your community.
"Every parent should meet with the PTA leaders and parent engagement coordinators in your school," says National PTA president Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors. "This will help you learn how to become more engaged in your child's education and improve their achievement both in the classroom and in life. Afterward, take the next step and become a PTA member yourself."
Photo: Christopher Robbins/Thinkstock
If your child's school has a guidance counselor, make a point to get to know her. She can help evaluate your child's academic and social development, help him in a time of trouble, identify any special needs and more.
In addition, with bullying
a prevalent issue in today's schools, the guidance counselor can keep you informed of bully-related issues at the school. Not only does she counsel your children, but she can also provide you with tips and advice for how you can address certain issues at home.
Photo: George Doyle/Thinkstock
School Bus Driver
If your child rides the bus to school, make a point to introduce yourself to the bus driver while your child is around (so the bus driver can make the connection between you both). This way, the bus driver can let you know if there are any problems on the bus.
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