There are many ways to get involved with school. It’s worth finding ways that can work for you, your child and the school.
On this page:
- Helping out in the classroom
- Helping out for special events or camps
- Getting involved on school committees or school council
- Staying involved at secondary level
There are many reasons why parents and carers get involved with their child’s school. Sometimes it’s about directly helping out in the classroom or on excursions, in ways that assist their child. Sometimes it’s about getting a stronger sense of their child’s support needs, by being around them in a school environment.
Often parents and carers get involved in order to build their relationship with the teachers and other staff, and the sense of partnership. Having helped out on an excursion or assisted in others ways might stand you in good stead, if and when you need to raise a concern at school, as Marie suggests:
“Some schools invite you in. They consider you a partner, you know? You’ve got to know – and the teachers need to know – that that’s the level you want to work at, too. That you’re all in it together. Everyone’s got the same aim. I found that I had to show my face, and talk to the teachers. I also went out of my way to try and help, like with extra things at the school, too. To show that I was appreciative that they were helping me as well. The teachers need to support you and do what you want, but you also need to show that you’re willing to support them, when the time comes, as well.” – Marie
Helping out in the classroom
Not every parent or carer is available to help out at school during class time. But for Janet, helping out in her son’s grade 1 class was helpful for a number of reasons:
“In grade 1, that was a really important year for Charlie, because it’s not as touchy-feely as prep. So I decided to help out in the classroom, to learn from the teacher how I could help teach him, and also to see how he was going socially, and see where he was having difficulties.
It gives you a really good understanding of the state of the nation, and where your child is at. That was quite eye-opening for me, to realise what areas he was struggling in, and where he needed help. And he really enjoyed me being there as well. He loved having mum in the classroom. And I thought, ‘You’re not going to enjoy me in grade 5, so I may as well do it while you’re young!”
Within that, I made some resources for the classroom to help him and some other children that were struggling with things, for instance doing words, adjectives. I developed a good relationship with his teacher. Just being there really helped her and I work on strategies for Charlie together.” – Janet
Helping out for special events or camps
For other parents or carers, it might be more possible to take some leave and help out on school camp or during special events. Anthony felt that this was an important way to communicate to the school:
“Within a matter of weeks at the new school, I took some leave and went on school camp. We make ourselves at every opportunity to do those types of things. Not to say, ‘We’ll do all this, so you’ve got to do this back for us’, but you know, we make it clear to them that we’ll do everything we can. It’s not to say, quid pro quo, we’ll give you this if you give us that. It’s about that partnership.”
Helping out on excursions or for special activities also provides an opportunity to get to know the teachers a little more, and to build a sense of mutual support and partnership:
“In the specialist setting, you only met twice a year. Except there were always opportunities to visit the school for different things. So I was often at school ‘informally’, which gave me regular opportunities to chat with the teacher. I also attended class excursions and community activities, so I’d have the opportunity to watch my son interact with staff and other students, and provide suggestions and solutions to any issues I may have observed.” – Rhonda
“I wanted the teachers to know that when there were things that came up at school, like sewing costumes for the production, or helping with wrapping things for the Mothers Day stall or whatever – that I would try and get involved. Because not only are you in the school that bit more, and seen that bit more. But you are seen as someone who is trying to support the school, and you are appreciating what the teachers are doing. It works both ways. It might only be a little thing, like when they would have a particular topic in the class, like the Italian day, for instance, I went and helped them make pasta in the class. Its just a little thing, but sometimes it goes a long way. It gives the teachers a bit more confidence when they know where you’re coming from.” – Marie
Getting involved on school committees or school council
Some parents and carers are able to get involved with school committees, such as fundraising or parents association committees, or on the school council. This can be an opportunity to influence the school’s approach in a number of areas that might affect your child’s experience of school. It can also help to build your relationship with the school staff and leadership, which might sometimes affect how the staff respond to issues you might raise about your child’s education:
“I chose to go on school council. And because they knew that I contributed to the school, and they got to know me, our relationship grew and we gained mutual respect. I think because of my participation with the school, and their knowledge of me, they then responded quite well to most issues that I felt it important to address wiht them. Unfortunately, at times I could see there were different relationships between the school and parents who didn’t participate. Which is sad, because if you’re not a contributor to the school you still should be respected.” – Rhonda
Staying involved at secondary level
Parents and carers are often less involved with their child’s secondary school (especially in mainstream) than they were at primary school. However, parents and carers are still valued members of secondary school communities, and there are various ways that you can still contribute and be involved. This helps build your relationship with the school and staff, as well as other families and students; this in turn can help you support your child’s social development.
All schools have School Councils and there may be committees, working bees, or a Parents and Friends Association. Many schools have social functions and fundraisers for families, and parents and carers themselves may organise social events to get to know other families. Consider participating at a level that suits you, your child and family.