Mrs. Rachel Ferreiro
Roger D. Gehring Elementary School
1155 E. Richmar
Las Vegas, NV 89123
(702) 799-6899
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Busy Parents Guide

No matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children. Parents of first- and second-graders in the "School Transition Study," conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project, have discovered creative ways to stay involved in their children's learning and development. Researchers conducting the survey learned important and useful tips to share with busy parents.

Use Your Time Well

  • Organize your time. One single parent of four who is going back to school tries hard to organize her class schedule so that she has time with her children. She is able to be home with them in the afternoons on most school days. In another family where the mother and father both work full time, they are able to organize their work schedules so that one of the parents is always at home with the children. One day a week after school, the children walk to their mother's workplace where they wait a short time with her until their father picks them up.
  • Do a few things at once. One father arranges to do quiet household chores right beside his daughter who does her homework at the kitchen table. Then the father is there to answer questions. Another mother has her daughter start her homework in the family's car while they are waiting for her older brother to get out of school. The car is a quiet place where they can talk together.
  • Find other people to help. One single parent who cannot be home in the afternoon or evening has the babysitter help the children with homework. Another single parent who works two jobs during the summer arranges for her son to get taken to his neighborhood summer program every morning by his grandfather, who lives nearby. When the program is over, the mother's friend takes the child to football practice and then back home, where the mother serves everyone a late dinner.

Balance Work Schedules and Family

  • Do some school things at the beginning of the day. One single father in the study who works a late shift uses the morning when he is home to check over homework with his son. Then he takes him to school. Sometimes he will sit in the classroom and watch or chat with the teacher before he goes to work.
  • Make breakfast the big family meal. Another mother who also works late has her high school-aged daughter make a simple dinner for the younger children. Then the mother cooks a big hot breakfast every morning when she is home before the children go to school.
  • Do things differently on the weekend. One mother leaves for her job every morning before the children are up. But on Sundays she wakes them up early, so she can share time with them before she goes to work. A special thing for this family is eating lunch at the restaurant where the mother works.

Ways to Stay Involved with Your Child's School When You Are Busy

Being involved with school is an important way to show you care about your child's learning.

  • How busy parents stay involved at school. One mother, who cannot volunteer because of her work schedule, finds it easier to go to meetings at night, and has been to some school council meetings. Another mother volunteers to help keep things organized in the halls at the end of the school days, when she is there picking up her child. In a family where the mother is taking care of a baby, the father is able to help out in his older son's classroom two hours a week.

Source: Early Childhood Digest,  National Institute on Early Childhood Development and Education, and U.S. Dept. of Education, 202/219-1935.