Lose The Mom Guilt By Finding Small Ways To Make A Big Impact

Well, it’s officially fall, and most of us are back in the swing of things with our kids’ school routines.

Soon, it will be time for back-to-school night or those first PTO meetings.

There’s a lot going on for parents, but studies show just how much we really need to be paying attention.

Besides those early school year meetings to meet the teachers, see the classrooms, and learn about the year’s plans, there are all the other things that will require our involvement throughout the year.

Homework, recitals and concerts, volunteer needs, and sign-up sheets for programs — it’s enough to make a mom’s head spin.  

If we’re honest, the last thing we want to do after a long day of work or a long day at home with the younger kids is put on a decent outfit and leave the house for an evening program or meeting at school.

And as everyone settles in, we may already start getting those sign-up sheets for being a class parent or providing food for an after-school activity.  And the slot for paper products and sodas are always the first to go.

But even though you know it already, scientific studies are proving just how important our participation in our child’s school life is.

Most of us were excited to participate in every single activity possible when our child first started school.  It was new, and we weren’t used to them being away, so we wanted to do as much as possible.

Then, more children come along and you may have multiple children in multiple grades – or even in different schools.  

Or as the school year goes on, we may become less involved than we were during the excitement of the start of the year.

We’ve all been there, but research shows that when parents are more engaged in their child’s life at school, it can improve grades, test scores, behavior at school, and even long-term success as an adult.

The good news is, you don’t have to be involved in every project and program in order to make a positive impact on your child.

Checking in daily with your child at the dinner table or after school is the most important first step in staying involved. 

What do they have for homework?  Are there any papers to sign?  Are there any upcoming events or large projects due?  

And then, make sure to ask them about everything they did during the day – and focus on the positives.

Help them with tasks when appropriate, and plan ahead.

When it comes to all the evening programs, parent meetings, and volunteer opportunities, it’s hard not to feel guilty when we can’t participate in everything.

Each of us has a different schedule and amount of time available – it’s not realistic to try to do it all.  But there are small ways to participate, no matter how busy we get.

Can’t volunteer in the classroom?  Ask the teacher if there is anything you can work on at home over the weekend that might help out.  Even cutting out patterns for the bulletin board or making labels can be a huge help!

Can’t make it to the PTO meetings each month?  Connect with other moms – or even start your own Facebook group or email network – so you can stay informed and give input.

And, we’ve all baked cupcakes at midnight for the next day’s school festival.  They really don’t have to be homemade!

As your child gets older, it is normal for involvement in school activities to wane.  They often have multiple teachers and are involved in too many activities to count as they go through middle and high school.

Sit down with your child and ask them what their priorities are for your involvement.  They may not need you to go to every football game, but it’s special to them that you attend their choral performances.

And don’t feel guilty if you attend events at the beginning of the year and then lose steam – it happens to all of us.

The good news is, a study of 200 teachers and over 3,000 students by the University of Missouri showed that heavy parental involvement at the beginning of the year still led to a year-long positive impact on students.

It is also vitally important to maintain a relationship with your child’s teacher or teachers throughout the year.  

These days, most schools send out email notifications or have parent/student portals.

It’s sometimes difficult to keep up, but be sure to read each message or notification, and if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to send a message to your child’s teacher.

Whatever you are able to contribute to your child’s school life will matter to them.  

The University of Missouri education researchers found that even a small effort can have a big impact on students and teachers.  

You may attend every event you can and volunteer once a week in the classroom.  Or you may work long hours and only be able to send in those paper plates.

The bottom line is to communicate with your child and the school and offer support and encouragement.  

Stay in touch with other parents in order to support each other  — and share your time and talents to benefit your child’s classroom.

Know what’s going on, be involved in the important stuff, and lose the “mom guilt!”  

How do you prioritize everything that you are asked to be involved in with your child’s school life?  Leave us your thoughts.

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