A new school year means a chance to get involved

The return to school of our students for another year brings another opportunity for parents and guardians to become involved with the Home and School association in their child’s school.

Likely buried somewhere in the mountain of paperwork that comes home at the beginning of every school year is an invitation to come to a Home and School meeting. If you’re the parent of a younger child, or new to Prince Edward Island, it’s possible that you have little idea why you would do this.

Every school on the Island has a local Home and School association, a group that includes parents, teachers and staff in its membership and that seeks to improve the total well-being of every student, working to support educators in their work, to engage parents in the school, and to shine light on challenges faced by Island families that stand in the way of every student meeting their potential.

The work of Home and School can take on many forms, from organizing speakers and events and working to improve communication between home and school, to helping parents understand how to best get answers to questions they might have about the school and their child’s education. Home and School associations often raise funds for school projects, and while this can be an important role for associations to play, the focus is always on supplementing education and not on filling a gap in education funding.

Participating in Home and School can take on many forms and doesn’t necessarily involve attending meetings or volunteering to sell raffle tickets. Last year, for example, among many things, Home and Schools held robotics workshops for students, organized math nights for families, worked on provincial resolutions about academic outcomes and provided feedback to the superintendent of the English Language School Board at workshops held across the province. There are plenty of opportunities for parents and guardians to participate. Home and School needs organizers, writers, artists, trainers, money people, computer people, translators, people to build playgrounds and people to write resolutions.

So when you see that notice in your child’s kit bag inviting you to help out with Home and School, give it a second thought and pitch in. You’ll be helping to improve education for your children, and all children, and you’ll have fun doing it.

The PEI Home and School Federation’s semi-annual meeting is coming up on Oct. 21st at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School in Kensington. It’s an important event on the Home and School calendar as its focus is on dialog between parents and the minister of education and early childhood development, the superintendent of the English Language School Board and other officials about the resolutions passed at our Annual Meeting in April. The resolutions are online at peihsf.ca/agm/resolutions.  Read them and come to the meeting, hear the official response and ask questions. Every local association can send up to five voting delegates to the meeting, but there’s no limit on the number of parents who can attend otherwise. More information is online at peihsf.ca/semi-annual.

In previous years, training workshops for local Home and Schools have been offered across the Island in September. This year there’s a change to individualized training on a school-by-school basis to ensure that everyone gets exactly the training they need. Contact the PEIHSF office at 902-620-3186 or toll free, 1-800-916-0664, to discuss how the federation can equip you with the training you need to help your local association run smoothly.

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Peter Rukavina, president P.E.I. Home and School Federation, lives in Charlottetown with his partner an dtheir son.  His column appears in The Guardian during the school year on the first week of the month.  He welcomes comments from ereaders and information for the column. He can be reached through the federation office at peihsf@edu.pe.ca or 902-620-3186/1-800-916-0664.