Think about going back to school with your kids

Youngsters are back in school again, and that elicits all the usual clichés about how relieved parents are that summer vacation is over at last.

But instead of viewing the start of a new school year as shipping kids off to classrooms and no longer having to listen to summertime laments about being bored, parents ought to consider spending some time in those classrooms as volunteers.

Sure, everybody’s busy and it may seem impossible to find any time in our harried schedules, but an hour or two a week spent helping in your child’s class can benefit your student, other kids in the class, the teacher — and yourself as a parent.

Involved, supportive parents make a crucial difference in a child’s education. After all, parents are every child’s first teachers, starting with reading stories to them (which every mom and dad should do) long before they can walk and talk.

Don’t think you’d be intruding by coming into the classroom. Good teachers and good schools welcome the involvement of parents (and grandparents), and will find meaningful ways for you to contribute.

Don’t worry that you’re not educated enough; it doesn’t take a college degree and in-depth knowledge of algebra or chemistry to be an effective and valuable helper, especially with elementary school students.

And don’t be dissuaded if your kids protest that they’ll be embarrassed having a parent in class. They’ll get used to you being there, and hopefully they’ll start to notice other kids looking forward to you being there. Your presence and involvement will reinforce the message to your children that education is important, which should boost their motivation.

So talk to the teacher or principal or counselor or PTA leader, and find a volunteering role that suits you.

Will it really make a difference? Well, as a distinguished scientist and educator once observed, “Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”

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