Working Parents:Getting Involved in Your Child's Education

Parental involvement in children’s schooling may result in higher test scores, better grades and the greater likelihood of graduation, according to Education Week. While not working isn’t always an economic option for every parent, involving yourself in your child’s education doesn’t have to fall by the wayside. Just because you can’t stop in at school on a regular basis to read to your second grader’s class or you can’t make it to your preschooler’s snack-time on a regular basis, doesn’t mean that you can’t play a part in your child’s education.

Evening and Weekend Opportunities

Take advantage of off-work opportunities to involve yourself at your child’s school. Even though you might not have the chance to duck in for a quick story time, help out at the afternoon book fair or chaperone the class’s Valentine’s Day party, ask your little one’s teacher about other options. For example, offer up your services to help out with the weekend school carnival or attend “family reading night” with your child.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in 2012 alone 87.8 percent of families with children had at least one parent who worked outside of the home. This means that you aren’t alone when it comes to missing out on work-day involvement opportunities. It’s likely that plenty of your child’s classmates’ parents are in similar situations. Get together with other working moms, or dads, and create your own evening and weekend opportunities to show your school spirit off to your children. Organize an after-school parent-child basketball game or hold an evening bake sale to raise money for the school’s parent-teacher organization.

At-Home Involvement

Going off to school doesn’t mean that your child’s education only happens out of the home. There are plenty of ways to involve yourself in your child’s education after work and after school. A key piece of parental involvement is knowing what your child’s doing at school and helping them with it. When they – or you – walks in the door, ask her what she did at school that day. Avoid yes or no answer questions such as, “Did school go well today?” in favor of open-ended ones such as, “How was your science test? What were some of the questions that Ms. Smith asked?”

Offer to help your child with assignments and projects. While this shows your young student that you want to get involved in her schooling, you shouldn’t overcompensate and do an assignment for her. Even though you may feel guilty about working full-time, you don’t have to make it up to your child by taking over her homework duties. Make yourself available to answer homework questions or sit with your child as she works, offering advice and encouragement.

Connect With the Teacher

If you can’t make it to the school-day scheduled parent-teacher conference or aren’t present at drop-off and pick-up time to chat; make a point to connect with your child’s teacher in other ways. Email makes it easy to keep in constant contact with the educator, asking questions or filling them in on your child’s changing needs.

When your work schedule makes it impossible to get away for a school-day conference, ask your child’s teacher if they’re available to talk later on. It’s not likely that they’ll want to stay at school late or come in after they’re done with their own work day, but they may make themselves available to talk on the phone in the evening.

While creating a work-life balance isn’t always as easy as A,B,C; with some creative planning it is a possibility. Instead of letting your involvement drop as your work schedule amps up, carve out time to spend at your child’s school or make a point of helping out with schoolwork at home.