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Parental involvement key to a child's education

Parenting your school-aged child doesn't stop when they walk out the door in the morning. Schools across the country and in Duluth are trying very hard to get that message out to the parents. With the start of classes just weeks away, schools are...

Parenting your school-aged child doesn't stop when they walk out the door in the morning.
Schools across the country and in Duluth are trying very hard to get that message out to the parents.
With the start of classes just weeks away, schools are hoping for more involvement from the parents of their students.
At Laura MacArthur, in West Duluth, the PTA and school administration want 50 percent parent involvement in decision making.
Many parents don't realize they have a lot of input, says Cindy Provencher, parent involvement coordinator at Laura MacArthur.
Provencher is working on different ways to get parents involved in their child's schooling.
Time, she says, is the most common obstacle for busy parents.
"We just encourage them to just take a couple hours off once a year to come and watch their child's school play. They need to see your face in school," she said.
Parent involvement helps the students feel a connection between home and school, Provencher said.
"It makes them feel that the parent cares what's happening and what they're learning and doing. If the parent cares, it's proven that the child does better."
But besides helping the child, parent involvement can also help parents who often face the same kinds of issues and situations that other parents have faced.
"I feel it's important for my children because I don't have all the answers," Provencher said. "And being involved helps me find resources to help my children. Other parents, teachers, school administration, community members are out there to help parents with their children."
There are about 3,000 parents involved in 20 PTA chapters in Duluth, with over seven million PTA members nationwide, according to Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, who attended a national PTA conference in Chicago this summer.
Loeffler-Kemp, who has children at Rockridge-Lakeside Elementary School, said the national PTA has focused its efforts in many areas of parent involvement, but one in particular works to increase parent involvement in our nation's inner city schools.
It's called "The Urban Initiative."
"It's another initiative to get parents more involved in inner city schools and to develop more opportunities for parents and diversify in a sensitive way," Loeffler-Kemp said. "It's targeted at getting more parents in inner city schools involved in the PTA by looking at how we can best meet their needs."
Loeffler-Kemp and three others from Duluth who also attended the national conference, Kim Carlin, Cathy Lutzka and Bonnie Gustafson, will bring the information presented at the 104th annual conference to their Duluth chapters this fall in the hopes of boosting parent involvement in local schools.
"Any time that you bring local people to a national convention to have an opportunity to meet with other PTA parent leaders around the country, we have seen ideas that are working for other schools, creative ideas in getting parents involved," she said.
PTA does its part, Provencher said. It hosts a before-school open house and picnic and a last day of school picnic.
During these social gatherings, parents can meet other parents, teachers and school administrators, making it that much easier to come to the school during the day for a classroom visit.
Anyone, parent or not, with questions about parent involvement or PTA may contact Loeffler-Kemp at 525-6878.
"We welcome partnerships with community members and business leaders," Loeffler-Kemp said. "They can get involved at their local school."

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