Want to help your school make changes? Follow this blueprint.

Young Girl Jumping Red Pants Fur Jacket and Glasses
Credit: Gretchen Easton

1. Volunteer

Spending time at your child’s school, even if it’s sorting books in the media center for 30 minutes once a month before the school day starts, helps you build relationships and trust with the people who make decisions.

2. Understand the hierarchy

School districts have their own unique organizational structures. If you’d like to see changes in how your child’s classroom is run—such as introducing “brain breaks” during coursework or offering healthier snacks—start by having a positive conversation with your child’s teacher, suggests Peggy McLeod, the deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza in San Antonio, Texas. If the tweaks are outside his scope of authority, meet with the school principal. If that’s not effective, try the superintendent and then finally reach out to the school board. McLeod also recommends preparing your suggestions and questions in advance to make the best use of everyone’s time.

3. Do your research

Education policies, which include discipline procedures and the types of social and emotional support students have access to, are often determined by the school board. Soto Pujadas encourages parents to be actively engaged in their school-board elections to make sure you agree with the board’s philosophies. Go to their listening sessions, and if their solutions sound vague, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

4. Cheerlead

You’ll be a more effective advocate for your school if you take an active role in celebrating what it does well. At Francisca Alvarez Elementary, students, parents, and staff are encouraged to share the school’s good news on social media. States and districts have differing policies about publishing images of students, so check with your principal to make sure the children at your school can be photographed before you start posting images.