When my daughter started Kindergarten this year, my mother-in-law encouraged me to join the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization). I balked thinking it would be all politics and little fun…but she strongly disagreed. “It’s fun!” she exclaimed. “Especially the classroom parties!” At any rate, I decided to take her advice and I’m glad I did. I signed up to be a “Homeroom Parent” (i.e. Party planner) and also to be a “Parent Reader” where you come in once every few months to read to the classroom for about 45 minutes. When I signed up, I had expected some things but found the following unexpected lessons:
- I made new friends. I was so lucky to meet some great parents who became friends when my daughter was in preschool but it’s a lot harder to do that once she got to Kindergarten. In preschool, there was no bus service so parents would run into each other dropping off & picking up their kids. In Kindergarten, it’s bus service so there’s little interaction with local parents. Being a “Homeroom Parent” put me in close touch with 3 other moms who are just fantastic. I’m so lucky to have met them!
- I put the kids’ “faces with names.” My daughter often talks about kids at school as I’m sure most kids do. But being able to go into the classroom for the parties and to read has really allowed me to learn most of their names and to be able to “follow along” when my kid talks about her day.
- I learned it’s OK to ask for community support. I don’t like to be overly pushy when it comes to PTO sales but I have learned that friends and family are happy to support children, especially when it involves buying subs and sandwiches!
- I learned that most of the fun activities at our schools are sponsored by the PTO. Dances, Laser shows, anti-bulling plays, roller skating parties, book fairs, community days, carnivals…that’s all run and financially supported by our PTO. These events are often open to and benefit the entire community, not just the kids in school.
- A better relationship with my child’s teachers. I feel like I know my child’s teachers better and they at least know me a bit and relate me to my child. It’s nice to see how the teacher interacts with the students and vice versa and get a chance to see how classrooms are run now-a-days (Hello smartboards!)
So there you have it. Just 5 of the many things I’ve learned by joining my child’s PTO at school. Tell me about your adventures in your local PTO in the comments below!
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