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Three Reasons To Attend Afterschool and Evening School Functions
Parents put in a long day at work. They come home to a sink full of dishes, a hungry family, and piles of homework. The last thing they want to do is pack the kids back up in the car and head back to school. And yet, schools everywhere incessantly plan evening activities for parents and families. There are potlucks, and read ins. There are school recitals, and open houses. There are movie nights, PTA meetings, and various fund raisers.
The fund raisers, at least, make sense to some busy parents. But the other events? Why on earth would you want to end a busy day full of meetings, business lunches, scouts, baseball practice or ballet lessons and homework with a trip back to your kids school? They spent the day there. School is for kids. Not for parents.
Some parents avoid these nights. They think of them as popularity contests or cliquish events for those who have the time and energy to be PTA parents. They'd rather drag the kids to the local pizza parlor than spend an hour interacting with other parents and kids. As a natural introvert, I understand not wanting to deal with crowds. And I completely commiserate with exhaustion. Evenings are long, and school events make them longer.
But then I see the benefits to school events. There isn't a doubt in my mind that the benefits of going far outweigh the cranky, rushed mornings that follow.
Self Esteem Boosting
A report card is nice. And kids may be anxious to show off art work when they get home. But art work doesn't always travel well. And sometimes, it looks much better presented on the classroom wall.
Kids want their parents to see their classroom, the place they spend 5-6 hours a day. They want to hear how impressed you are. They want to glow with pride as you ooh and aahh over the bulletin board, and the art displays, and their reading folders. They work harder in school knowing that their hard work will be on display at Open House.
What's more, this pride isn't limited to your kids OR your personal support. When you go to Open House, your children will stand a little straighter as they overhear the other parents' compliments. They are just as proud of their classmate's role in decorating the classroom as they are their own. And their classmates feel the same way. They might duck their head and shrug at any direct compliments you pay, but every "Good job!" hits it mark, and instills in those kids a desire to earn more recognition, and keep working hard to do their best in school.
When you attend a school function, you aren't just showing support for your child and their classmates. Every time you take the time out to show up at an event, you're telling the community you care.
Sound extreme? Yeah, I know. But it's true. If you take the time to go to events, your school's personnel will work harder to make sure there's something to show off. Your community will take pride in your school, and want to make sure it has the means to have something to show off. That's right. When you go to Back to School night and spring recitals, you're helping to garner the much needed tax dollars that keep schools going. You're showing parental presence. Involved parents, however reluctant, are a large factor in overall school performance. That includes test scores and success rates.
The teachers respond to parental presence, too. If they know you care, they want to show off as much as the kids do. They want their students to shine, and will work extra hard to help them show off for their parents. The work often results in a better classroom experience.
You might also keep in mind that big corporations don't send reading packets or science lab kits out to classrooms where no one wants to be there. They help kids who love learning, and showing off their accomplishments. They send them to places where they get invited to see the kids display science projects, or where they are recognized for their donation during the spring recital.
By showing up, you're stating (without any work) that you appreciate the donations. That you care about the quality of your child's education. And that their generosity is appreciated.
Some parents hate hanging out with other parents. But your kids are in a classroom with 20-30 other kids every day. Those peers influence your children's thoughts, opinions and ultimately their decisions. They will make friends, have playdates and attend birthday parties. By attending school functions, you can get to know the parents of your children's friends in a neutral setting. Where you're all there for the kids, not for food or drinks or to 'hang out'.
The more you get to know the other parents, the more resources you have when something doesn't go according to plan. Maybe it's a forgotten math book, maybe it's a question on the big report due tomorrow...or maybe you're in the market for a carpool. Whatever you need, it's a lot easier to find resources if you get to know the other parents. It may mean occassionally picking up the slack for someone else, or being asked for favors now and then. But that's what a network is, a woven net of helping hands that keep your life, and everyone else's, running smoothly.
You don't have to become best friends with everyone at these functions. But the familiar faces and general attitudes start to give you a picture of who you do (and don't) want your kids to foster relationships with. And if problems arise, it's a lot more comfortable to talk to someone you recognize than a total stranger. It's also nice to hear the inevitable compliments that come when people know your children, and are involved in the school. You'll hear them, and get the chance to pass ones on, if you go back to school for evening functions.
There are probably a thousand real reasons to go to evening functions. But the main one is that it means a lot to your children. You want them to do well in school. You want them to value school. If you want them to know it, you have to put the effort in and go back to school.
You might just find yourself having fun, too.