Being involved in your middle schooler’s education

Dear Teacher

How can I stay involved in my son’s education as he enters middle school this year? In elementary school, I was a room mother and very active in the PTA. Now, he wants me to back off and stay away from his new school.
– Concerned

Being involved in your children’s education definitely becomes trickier and trickier for parents after they leave elementary school. Many, like girls smilingyour son, are no longer eager for their parents to come to school or to talk to their teachers. Nevertheless, your involvement in his education remains a key to his success in middle school just like it was in elementary school. Here are some ways to help you stay involved in your son’s education:

• Read the handbook that the school sent to your home. It will help you understand how things are done at your son’s new school. Pay particular attention to the sections on attendance, grading, contacting teachers, and all the rules and regulations. For example, if your son says he needs to stay after school for a detention, you will know the approximate reason why this could have occurred.
• Keep up with what is going on at your child’s school by reading all the information that the school sends out. Be sure to sign up for e-mail newsletters. If the school has a Web site, it will be a great source of information. And possibly some of his teachers may have pages on the Web site telling what is happening in different classes.
• Continue to be involved with the PTA. It will let you know so much about what is happening at the school and to play a role in implementing policies to improve the school.
• Attend events in which your son is involved as well as those for parents. This includes such things as science fairs, sports events, choir performances, and PTA meetings.
• Volunteer to help in whatever ways your schedule will allow. This allows you to learn even more about how the school works.
• Very important: Talk to your son every day to learn about his day at school. Make sure it’s a real conversation – not one that seems like an inquisition. Many families use the evening mealtime to discuss what everyone did that day.
• When problems occur at school, don’t rush to resolve them unless your immediate involvement is necessary. Instead, talk with your son asking him to devise ways that he can resolve them. This will help him learn how to handle school problems.