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active parents in high school

671 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  sunnysideup
I need your brilliant ideas. At the high school my two sons attend there is a parent group. The purpose of this parent group is a little different than traditional PTA, as is the school. At this school each student has a 'homebase'. The homebase is a room connected to the homebase teacher's classroom, and the homebase has seating, fridge, micro, computer, etc. all to be used for time between classes. The kids all have different schedules and many attend college classes across the street. A kid may have math from 8-9 then a break until 10, then a college class from 10-11, then a two hour break, followed by 3 classes in a row, finishing at about 4. Or they might go from 11-4. And the schedule changes day to day, typically M-W, T-Th, and F schedules. Anyway, the homebases are used very much during breaks.

Back to PAC, (parent action committee). The goal of the school is to have parents active on campus, doing whatever, just to be seen. Gardening, helping with homework, grabbing a cup of coffee, playing basketball, using the weight room, etc. The feeling being that it will help to create a family atmospher, and provide non-authority type people who are adults around for conversation. It is not to intrude upon one's own kids, but parents still learn a lot about their own teens by participating. The kinds of activities I have done is teaching lessons for teachers (not as a substitute, but as a supplement), helping students to organize voluteer activities, participating in student led fund raisers, and many many conversations re: drugs, sex, fears regarding possibility of parents dying, mean girls and what to do about them, etc. Lots of hugs.

Finally, my question!
The school has 600 students, and about 5 parents active on campus, and another 6-7 who come to the monthly meetings. How can we get more parents to participate??? The fears seem to be that their children won't be able to become independent if parents are involved, and that parents just don't have time. Parents do, however, request more communication from school.

If you can help with ways to communicate the benefits to parents, families, students, etc. of being involved at school it would be so greatly appreciated. If you can see why parents wouldn't want to be involved, maybe you can share that opinion and I could practice by trying to persuade you.

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I think the best way to communicate to them is to make phone calls. I taught elementary school, but often notes or flyers didn't make it home. I would try to organize maybe some sign-ups or informational meetings and then get your parents and staff together and form a phone tree. You could also post sign/banners in front of the school and flyer the kids, and I think those things in combination would get a better response.

Originally Posted by SuccessTogether
If you can see why parents wouldn't want to be involved, maybe you can share that opinion and I could practice by trying to persuade you.

I think it is odd to have parents hanging out at the high school. I would feel very invaded as a student under those conditions, whether they were my parents or not. School is not an extension of home. It's school. Academics.
There's a time and a place, and all that.
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I'm de-lurking here to say that I think that sounds really cool. I can see that many parents would simply not have the flexibility to have time for something like that, so that would cut your pool down quite a bit. Many people are working and some who aren't WOH may have younger children at home at least part of the day and would be unable to participate. I would think that phone calls may be somewhat helpful, as would having the children encouraging their parents to come. Free food often brings a crowd--may not be applicable in this situation, though...
Thanks Boston for the opposing point of view. I hadn't considered that as an option. I think the kids are fairly used to parents being around as chaperones for dances, field trips, etc., and don't feel invaded in those arenas. I can see how they might not want school to be an extention of home, however even if they don't want it, does that make it a bad idea? This is only our second year in public school (7 years montessori, two years homeschooling) and I am shocked at how invasive school is into the home life. It seems like school *is* an extention of home.

Thanks sleet for your acknowledgement of the problems parents might have that I have been not very caring about. It just makes me sad for the kids whose parents aren't around because I see the desire of these kids to have contact. When I am on campus, virtual strangers hug me, it is as if they really have a craving for the positive attention. It seems like so much of the day they have to focus on their weaknesses and are judged at every turn, and when they can just be noticed without positive or negative comments they love it. But, whether I benefit or see the benefit for the kids, I really have to remember that not everyone has the desire or the time to participate, and I need to be better about recognizing that. Thank you for reminding me. I love your idea of having kids encourage their parents. We have had some kids do that, and the parents said no...
But we should try that again.

I hope the ideas keep coming.
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my mom was a high school volunteer. my brothers and i were active in the theatre department, and she was the costumer. she was one of three adults that us "crazy theatre kids" would listen to. she had to come in and be in charge if we had a sub.
we were bad and had reduced more than one sub to tears. oops!

something that might get more parents involved though is asking for specific things, skills and abilities from the parents. i agree that more parents of teens have less volunteer time, and they might be afraid of the discomfort factor (both for the students and for themselves) mentioned before. having more directed task oriented options might be more attractive to parents.

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I think this school sounds great. One thing that might work is to ask the teachers to each give you three or four suggestions of parents they think might be willing, then call those parents on the phone. Lots of parents see the notices that come home and just figure someone else will volunteer, but if they hear that there is a real need for their help they're more likely to say yes.
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