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PTA and Parental Involvement

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: In thinking back to my early learning years, I had one very impressionable teacher that not only taught, but made learning fun and motivated me to want to learn more and more. How do you put the fun back into learning? My seven year-old daughter is just happy to "get the correct answers to pass the tests" but has no real desire to LEARN more about the various subjects. I might add that my children are enrolled in a parochial school without a PTA. I feel that if we could put some fun back into the classroom on a regular basis, more children would be motivated. Some children, as I feel in the case of my daughter, need that extra push. She is more creative and likes to learn through "cut and glue" projects, etc. Dr. Spock stated that a child will learn more math in one week by making change and keeping books in a classroom school store than ten months of dry numbers out of a text book. I would greatly appreciate any advice you may have.

A: You may want to look into forming a chapter of the PTA for your school (click here for membership information), but you can still volunteer without a formal organization. Many teachers have volunteers in their classroom on a regular basis, and it can be very rewarding for both the teacher and the volunteer. As a teacher, my favorite volunteers like to help out, whether it's washing out paint containers or helping a child edit a story.

Your child's classroom is waiting for a mom like you. Run, don't walk, to the phone and make an appointment to meet with your child's teacher. The sooner you meet, the sooner great things can happen. Many teachers would love to do more projects and creative activities, but time is almost always the limiting factor. Meet with the teacher and ask if there is anything you can do to help supplement lessons with fun activities. Be very specific.

For example, if the children are reading stories about friendship, suggest that you could come in and help the children write their own stories about friends and make them into little books with illustrations. You could assist the teacher by helping students with writing and illustrating while the teacher works with small groups of students.

If you are interested in math, suggest to the teacher that you could facilitate a game in which students play "store" after a lesson.

Remember that it is very important to keep any commitment you make to assist a teacher. Teachers get very frustrated if a volunteer plans on doing an activity with the class and then doesn't show up.

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After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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