Different kinds of parents. Different kinds of parental involvement.

Parent involvement leads to improved student learning. But ‘Parent Involvement’ describes a very wide range of different activities, what matters?

There are many different kinds of activities that can help students learn, and different people tend to have different preferences.  There tend to be three different kinds of parents, all involved in important activities to help children succeed.

There are many who simply wish to carry out their role as parents.
There are others who are willing to contribute their time and energy as volunteers.


Almost every parent sending a child to school wants to know, “How can I help my child do better in school this year?”   There are several very important things that ‘just plain parents’ can do to support their children every year, even if you don’t want to join the school council, or cannot volunteer in the school.

Communicating effectively with your child’s teacher, to assist in overcoming any challenges, or to advise the teacher of challenges the child is facing outside of the classroom
Simply being a good parent, supporting the emotional and nutritional needs of children as they grow
Supporting your child in the completion of homework or the selection of courses that will prepare the child for secondary and post-secondary programs.
Attending school events such as assemblies, plays, science fair nights, parent teacher interviews etc.  Simply attending the school reinforces to your child that what he or she does every day is important to you.

These kinds of involvement do not involve joining the school council, volunteering in the classrooms or leading fundraising activities – yet, they are very important types of parental involvement. To many, they do not look like ‘parental involvement’, because they sometimes do not take place at the school – but they are important types of parent involvement.


Volunteers are another distinct group of people within the school.  Although many will never be part of the school council, volunteers offer plenty of helpful services to students and the school.

The four main types of involvement for volunteers include:

Traditional volunteering, including assisting individual classroom teachers, librarians or others within in the school
Organizing or running fundraising campaigns to benefit the students within the school
Organizing school social events that bring families to the school
Bringing community resources into the school for the benefit of students

Although many of these volunteers may never attend a school council meeting, they play a vital role within every school community.

School Council Members

School council members tend to be visible in terms of their involvement, but joining the school council is not the only way to be involved in the school in a meaningful way.

Within most schools, there are a core group of between 5 and 15 people who want to take on the leadership roles that exist on a school council.  Research from the U.S. indicates that only about 8% of parents want to join a school council. When we factor in scheduling conflicts and the other demands facing many parents, less than half of those who would like to be part of the school council can actually fit it into their schedules. That means that only about 3% or 4% of the parents within a school might become active with the school council. Others prefer to be volunteers, and still others prefer simply to carry out their roles as parents.

As a group of leaders within the school, one way to look at this role is to:

1. Support those who wish to carry out their role as parents.

2. Support volunteers with meaningful opportunities, training and recognition.

3. Become effective as a school council in partnering with the principal and staff in recognizing and supporting the various roles that parents play in helping children through their school years.

School councils are generally comprised of those willing to take on the leadership roles within the school. With leadership comes the responsibility of understanding the kinds of parents that exist within the school and the different kinds of activities they may be interested in participating in.