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Most Common Barriers to Parental Involvement in School Activities

by Erica Loop

According the Michigan Department of Education, 86 percent of Americans think that parent support is the primary factor when it comes to improving schools. That said, it isn't always easy for moms and dads to get involved in school activities. From schedule conflicts to confusion, an array of common barriers can put a halt to parental involvement in the educational environment.

Grade Level Decline

During the early elementary years, there is an endless list of opportunities for parents to get involved in school activities. The Michigan Department of Education notes that one obstacle to parental involvement is the drop in school opportunities for parents as children age. For example, during your child's kindergarten year you may have the chance to help with snacks, read to the class or chaperone a holiday party. By the time your child reaches middle school, these types of volunteer opportunities won't exist.

Fundraising

Bake sales, car washes and magazine drives are just some of the fundraisers that your child's school may do. Although these are necessary to fund extracurricular school events, field trips and parties, the national organization PTO Today notes that putting an emphasis on fundraising is a barrier to getting parental support. While there are certainly some parents who will jump in and help or donate money, others are often put off by the seemingly constant drives for cash.

Schedule and Time

Between work, car pool, baseball practice, ballet, homework and all of the other things that a busy mom -- or dad -- has to do, it's no wonder that time is precious to most parents. Parental involvement in school activities is something that is often difficult to schedule. For example, you may want to volunteer to help run the games for your child's Valentine's Day party, but leaving work mid-afternoon may not meet your boss's approval.

Lack of Knowledge

If parents don't know about the opportunities that exist to get involved at their kids' school, it's almost impossible to hope for a full list of volunteers. Lack of knowledge, when it comes to the whats and hows of involvement, is a common barrier to parental involvement. PTO Today recommends that parent-teacher organizations make everyone understand what they are and what the organization does. This means getting the word out as to what helping out at school entails, what opportunities exist and how to sign up.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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