You’ve probably heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” While we may not live in traditional villages today, the idea that children benefit from being part of supportive communities makes sense to many parents. When a school has a strong community ethos, children benefit. Studies show that when schools, parents, kids, and communities are all on the same page, children tend to do better at school, feel a sense of belonging, have more self-confidence, and have a more positive view of education.
Some schools go out of their way to create a sense of community by fostering opportunities for children and families to form connections beyond the classroom and school day. If you would like to join a community as well as a school, ask around. See if the schools you like best have community events, parent groups, social media groups, or volunteer groups that help create bonds. See whether new students and their families receive special support and introductions. Talk to current parents to see whether playtimes, birthday parties, or family get-togethers are common and inclusive.Studies show that when schools, parents, kids, and communities are all on the same page, children tend to do better at school, feel a sense of belonging, have more self-confidence, and have a more positive view of education.Some schools even help organize parent social coffees, book groups, parenting classes, service outings, or trivia nights! A strong and active parent-teacher organization can also work to strengthen the community feel. Raising a child is never easy, but a strong school community certainly helps.
For some schools, the idea of “community” also includes community service for students and/or families. This may take the form of visits to retirement or care homes, making arts and crafts to share with others, or fundraising for certain causes. Besides exposing children to people in their community they might not otherwise meet, such endeavors can help children learn important lessons about empathy and responsibility. Even young children can benefit from age-appropriate community service experiences—and maybe they’ll make someone else’s day brighter, too!
- How do parents and kids “get involved” at this school, outside of classes?
- Is there an active parent-teacher organization, and what is its mission?
- Is there a feeling of inclusivity for all, and how does this school encourage this?
- Make connections with other families in your building or neighborhood. Show your kids that personal connections outside the family are fun and rewarding.
- Volunteer for something you care about and take your children along with you if appropriate. Model a “giving attitude” for your children.
- Help your children reach out to an elderly relative, friend, or neighbor. Small things like making a drawing, helping with a task, or chatting on the phone can show your children that their efforts can make a difference to someone else.