Tuesday was the self-proclaimed national “Be Nice to the New Kid Day.” Hope it went well and all the new and old kids in the class felt good about themselves when they went home.

Today is National “Get Involved in Your Child’s School” Day. Once again, it’s a fairly recent holiday. I made it up about 4 and a half minutes old. But it’s a really important one. It’s a holiday that will have benefits for years to come.

When my oldest child was in first grade, I joined all the other mothers in the schoolyard complaining about something that the principal hadn’t done perfectly. I, along with the others, were quite right, of course, and completely justified at taking this poor woman to task, whether she knew it or not. It’s a kind of sport and I was really enjoying it until one mom in the neighborhood called me out. She said, “The first PTA meeting is tonight. Don’t complain unless you’re willing to get involved.” Whoa. Right between the eyes!

Well, she was right. I was working full time and had two other younger children at home but that was no excuse. There’s always a volunteer opportunity, especially with grade school. I had to do something. It was the best piece of advice I could have gotten for the following reasons:

• Children LIKE it when their parents volunteer.

• You get to know other parents better and believe me, you need each other during these formative years.

• Kids don’t feel like they can get away with as much if they feel you’re familiar with everyone in the school.

• Other kids get to know you and you can see first hand how they treat each other.

• When and if you have a legitimate complaint, the administration is more likely to take it seriously.

• It’s actually fun and it builds community. Note: Sometimes school parents can form cliques. If so, make sure you volunteer with other parents you think you’ll enjoy.

Involvement by parents lowers the incidences of bullying. Bullying lowers grades. Therefore, your interest in them and their school is good for their grades.

So, if you were on the fence before, perhaps now you might consider trying it out. One event at a time. It takes some time to find a niche, even as a volunteer, but it’s worth the search. If you stick with it, your kids will feel so PROUD. That’s the final and best reason of all.

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