Many statewide PTA (Parent Teacher Association) organizations around the country are gearing up for their annual conventions and conferences, which makes it very timely to remind you about how PTA can directly impact your own family. Although I wrote extensively about PTA in the blogs for my previous books, this is my first post about the importance of PTAs to a school’s health and to the well-being of the school’s students and parents on this new No Regrets Parenting blog. It won’t be my last such post on this site. I am a big believer in PTAs and similar parent-teacher organizations because I’ve watched them work for kids (my patients and my own kids), for parents (including my wife and me), and for the many schools at which I’ve consulted over the past 3 decades.
The underlying premise of No Regrets Parenting is, as you know by now, maximizing and optimizing the time you spend with your kids. PTA does not, per se, maximize the time you have with your kids. In fact, the meetings and volunteer work may take you away from home during homework hours or other family time. But . . . the long-term benefits of active membership in your school’s parent-teacher group certainly optimize the time you have with your kids and enhance the life of your family. How so?
As with school volunteering and room-parenting, knowing what’s going on at school, showing the teachers that you are an involved parent, and keeping your ear to the ground regarding the school’s direction are all invaluable for improving your child’s classroom and extracurricular experiences. The enrichment programs, after-school activities, and teacher support functions developed and implemented by PTAs help navigate the school toward shared goals. You will be a better partner in your kids’ education when you invest your time in their school.
But here’s the important part –if you do it right, PTA involvement is an excellent exercise in No Regrets Parenting. Many of my suggestions in the No Regrets Parenting book ask you to include your kids in your adult activities as often as you can and whenever appropriate. Your PTA work is a great way to involve your kids. Tell them when you’re going to meetings, and ask them for ideas to bring to the other parents and to the teacher reps. What works in your kids’ classrooms and what doesn’t? What are the biggest problems with the cafeteria, the gym, the buses, the assemblies, or the field trips? Where should fundraising dollars be directed to have the most benefit for your kids’ classes and the school’s facilities? Tell your kids what the issues on the agenda are for each meeting. Depending on your kids’ ages, this is not a just a token gesture; they can be true contributors to the discussion. Including your kids as advisers and allies in your organizational activities lets them know that you respect their opinions enough to ask and to act on them, and gives you yet another way to be your kids’ advocate. It’s like having your own personal “PSA” (parent-student association) at home, complete with its own meetings and refreshments, where making school a better place is the focus of everyone’s attention.
If you’re not already involved, I urge you to find and contact your own local PTA organization. Start here: PTA chapter locator.
Please join the discussion. Tell me and the readers of this No Regrets Parenting blog your own tips for bringing PTA into your home, and bringing your home into the PTA. Share your suggestions by clicking on the title of this post and adding your thoughts in the comments box that appears below my post. I’ll .respond to as many of you as possible.