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Reader questions

Reader questions


How do I make the most out of public school?

Charter schools, private schools, neighborhood schools, parochial schools—there are lots of different flavors out there. Instead of hopping around from one to the other, how can you make the most out of your school?

To answer this question, I turned to my friend and colleague Staci Intriligator who is a school designer for EL Education and a parent. The points we talked about would work for whatever kind of school you choose but would especially help you get the most out of your local neighborhood public school.

1. Keep in communication with your child’s teacher. Like constant communication. You want to:

a. Ask about specific programs happening in school that may benefit your child. Often there are good programs but schools struggle to communicate them clearly or effectively AND parents struggle to listen and keep track of announcements. (I know I do!)  

b. Ask specific questions about the curriculumWhat is the read-aloud book? What are you working on in math? Then you can extend the learning at home. For example, if you find out your student is working on fractions, sit down with a recipe and double it or cut it in half. Ask the teacher for suggestions.

2. Volunteer regularly--as you can. Being physically present in the school will make it much easier to find out and take advantage of the strengths of your child’s school.

3. When you find out about extracurricular programs happening at the school, go. If school personnel can see that families are interested in extra programming, they are more likely to go to the trouble of offering more programs. If they aren’t offering any programs that interest you (c’mon, math bingo isn’t your idea of a good time?) participate and then tell them what you would like instead.

4. Send an email or two to the principal requesting specific programs you’d like to see. Be a squeaky wheel--a gracious and relentless squeaky wheel. If you hear of something happening in another school, chances are it can happen in your school, too.

5. Do a little research and see if any local organizations host programs in schools. For example, a friend of mine talked to the local science museum and they brought a mobile science class to her children’s school for a few weeks. Art carts, mobile libraries, artists-in-residence—there are lots of organizations that want to partner with public schools.

6. Join the PTA. This way you can network with like-minded parents and advocate together to make things to happen in your school.

7. Offer your skill set to the school. You could start an after-school chess club or Saturday painting workshop that many kids (and families) would enjoy. Start the culture of sharing and other families will follow suit.

Have a question? Ask me!

Did you know I love to work directly with teachers, families, administrators, librarians, dads, students, abuelas, community members, program directors, teachers-in-training and literally everyone else? Talk to me.

Amanda Hamilton Roos