Your child is a new private school student. You’ve helped them navigate the challenges of being the new kid … but what about you? When your child joins a new school, you’re joining a new community — and it’s not always easy.
If you want to build a strong partnership with the school, form connections within the community, and foster family friendships, here are some ways you can get started:
1. Get involved with your child’s interests.
Sometimes it helps to follow your child’s lead. If they’ve joined an athletic team, talk to their coach about volunteering at practices, events, or supporting an athletic booster club. If they’re in an after-school club, ask the leader how you might be able to help. Can you carpool to and from meetings, practices, or events? This can be a great way to get to know your child’s new friends and their families. Whatever their interest, start there.
2. Start conversations.
Chances are you’ve given your child tips about establishing new friendships. Now it’s time to follow the same advice you gave them! Smile and say hi when you see other parents at school drop-off or pick-up. Start conversations and ask questions.
3. Offer your expertise.
What are your skills, talents, and passions — and how can you leverage them to support the school community? If you love to sew, maybe you can make costumes for the school play. If photography is a huge hobby of yours, volunteer to take photos at an upcoming school event. If you have a background in art, check-in with the art teacher to see how you might be able to help. Offer a job shadow, or head into school to talk about your profession on career day. There are many ways to use your expertise as a doorway into the school community, so get creative.
Simply raising a hand to volunteer is one of the best ways to meet other families. Schools are always in need of volunteers, whether for a one-time event or an ongoing basis. You might:
- Chaperone a field trip
- Ask your child’s teachers if they need help in the classroom
- Volunteer at a school fundraiser
- Help make copies in the school office
- Join a committee
5. Attend board or PTO meetings.
Find out if your child’s new school has board meetings that parents can attend or a PTO committee you can join. You’re likely to meet other active, engaged families at these events, and they can also be sources of information on opportunities to get involved. Plus, attending these events is a great way to establish yourself as a family that wants to make a meaningful contribution to the community.
6. Attend a school open house.
One of the best ways to feel comfortable with your child’s new school is to understand the school’s leadership, philosophies, programs, and facilities. If you didn’t attend an open house during the admission process, make time to do so now. They’re a great way to meet faculty, staff, current students and families, and other new families.
7. Invite news friends over.
Hosting your child’s new friends helps your child get to know their schoolmates, and it enables you to get to know their families. Casual conversation during pick-up and drop-off can help establish friendships. Or, take it a step further and invite parents to stay for some cocktails and conversation.
8. Open the lines of communication.
If you want to get involved, make sure you’re receiving school emails, following the school’s social media channels, and, if you have younger children, checking their backpacks and folders for information. Schools communicate in various ways, so ensure you have access to the information they’re distributing to stay up-to-date.
9. Don’t wait to be asked.
If you really want to get involved, don’t wait to be asked! Send an email and ask how you can help. As much as your child’s new school is an asset to their lives, remember it can be an asset to yours, too. Don’t be afraid to say, “Hi, I’m new here!” and watch how quickly you begin to feel at home in the school community.