Parents should become involved in local schools

Years of research shows that when parents are involved, students have higher test scores and graduation rates, better school attendance, better self-esteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased use of drugs and alcohol and fewer instances of violent behavior.

As the parent of two children, one a second-grader and one a sixth-grader, I understand how difficult it can be to get involved in your child's education. Life seems to get busier and more demanding, and there never seems to be enough time to accomplish anything.

But being active in your child's education is one of the most important roles we play as parents. Our children spend on an average of 70 percent of their waking time with us so we can set the tone for education and become our child's best teacher and advocate.

Not all parents will have the time to participate in the Parent Teacher Association or volunteering in the classroom, and that is OK. Being an involved parent can simply mean asking your child about what they are learning in school.

You may get the response, "nothing" but keep on asking. Children need to know that you believe that their education is important. Checking your child's "pee chee," helping with homework, reading a book together or going on Power School to check your child's grades are all ways that you can become involved.

Another important thing that we can do as parents is to make sure our children do not miss a lot of school because attendance is becoming more important every year.

Our teachers are required to teach a vast amount of curriculum in a very short amount of time so every day matters; of course if your child is sick it is best they stay at home.

We currently have 888 parents for the 2011-12 school year who have gone through the Carson City School District process and are cleared to volunteer in our schools. This is a substantial amount of volunteers, but with our school population at approximately 7,600 we could do better and now more than ever our teachers need our help.

If you are interested in volunteering in your child's school please ask the front office staff at the school for the volunteer packet. All that is required is filling out an application along with being fingerprinted.

It can seem like a daunting process but it is really quite simple. Once you have been fingerprinted this stays on file for three years. You also can contact the Carson City School District's main office at 283-2000 for more information.

If time allows, try attending a PTA/PTO meeting. This is a great way to be involved and does not require fingerprinting. Don't worry if you cannot make every meeting (I too find it difficult to attend due to my work schedule).

It is a great way to find out what is happening in your child's school and also is an opportunity to get to better acquainted with your child's principal and teachers as well as other parents.

As Dr. Joyce Epstein, the founder of the National Network of Partnership Schools states, "When parents, teachers, students, and others view one another as partners in education, a caring community forms around students and begins its work."

How true this is!

• Lynette Conrad is a trustee on the Carson City School Board. She will be making a presentation at Tuesday's board meeting in honor of National Parent Involvement Day, which was Thursday.


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