In the next few weeks, schools all over the country will be busy organising their Parent Teacher Association meetings.

IN the next few weeks, schools all over the country will be busy organising their Parent Teacher Association meetings. Now, not many parents are keen to attend such meetings. Many perceive it as boring or meaningless.

But this kind of assumption is far from the truth. To be honest, I used to think that the PTA was such a boring organisation filled with bureaucrats who spend their time discussing mundane things. I didn’t consider the annual general meetings appealing enough for me to attend. I always suspected that these folk were only in the PTA for their own personal agendas. Boy, was I wrong!

Something happened on the first day of my daughter’s school year (she was our second school-going child) that changed my perception forever. After sending her off, I decided to hang around for a while to observe if she would have problems coping. The students were gathering for a general assembly and it was all quite chaotic, especially for the Year One’s where my daughter was.

I was standing next to a group of parents who were engaged in complaining about everything that was going wrong. The complaints ranged from absence of sign posts, lack of manpower to control the kids, how the place was too small, and so on. But the amazing thing was, nobody actually did anything to help! They saw all the shortcomings, but instead of trying to improve the situation, they just sat back and talked among themselves.

BEING PROACTIVE

I resisted the urge to join them in venting my frustrations. Instead, I chose to walk up to a teacher

and ask if there was anything I could help with. The stressed teacher’s face literally brightened up. She asked if I could

help to control the kids and sort them into two rows while she managed the other three. I did and things became a little bit more organised and eventually sorted out.

And that incidence was a huge paradigm shift for me. I had two key learnings that day — that I could make a difference just through a simple intervention, and two, that I’d rather manage 200 adults than 20 rowdy little kids, anytime!

It was then that I realised just how much the teachers have to

go through as they try to do their best with whatever limited manpower and resources at

their disposal. I immediately made a commitment to offer whatever services

I could to the school, using whatever

skills I have. And I haven’t looked back since.

LIFTING SPIRITS

I can testify that the returns are great. For one, I became well known at my children’s schools and some parents even mistook me for one of the teaching staff. That wasn’t such a bad thing as it meant that my kids automatically behaved as they were also known by all the teachers.

Secondly, by being a part of the PTA, we get to influence the decision-making process at the school.

Suffice to say, not everyone can become committee members. But do you know that just being physically present during a meeting can actually uplift teachers’ spirits? Imagine if only a handful of parents turned up? Teachers may feel as empty as the hall. But when parents turn out in numbers? I’m sure the teachers would be beaming.

So, let’s not miss the opportunity to be present at the next PTA meeting. Even if you bring nothing else, just by being there you’re already contributing to the school programmes.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at zaid@smartparents.com.my

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