For many working parents, the extent of our involvement at our children’s school is to walk our son or daughter to their classroom, give them a hug, and wave hello to their teacher. Then, we depart for work.

It’s one of the biggest challenges for working parents — how to stay connected to the activities in our child’s classroom. There are so many events, field trips, parties, and activities that it requires someone to be a full-time, stay-at-home parent to be involved in everything.

Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for the majority of us.

But there are ways for working parents to play a role and be invested in their child’s education. For instance:  

1. Talk to Your Boss

This might be a delicate situation depending on how flexible your boss is and how he or she values family. But if you go in with a plan, your boss might be more amenable. For instance, map out a specific course of action. Ask your boss if you can come in a little late so that you can spend 30 minutes or an hour volunteering in your child’s classroom. In return, you will stay an extra 30 minutes or hour at the end of the day. Also, see if there’s a way that you can accomplish some work at home as a way to make up time that you're spending at your child’s school.   

2. Schedule Time Off Around Key School Events

This requires planning and another delicate touch. Many other parents that you work with will likely be asking for time off around holidays and spring break. Try to impress upon your boss and co-workers that it’s possible to share those days off. More importantly, study the calendar your child’s school sent home at the beginning of the school year. Are there dates on there for important field trips, performances, and other school activities? Try to get those days off and remember to make your requests early.

3. Open Lines of Communication

It may feel that certain parents are always volunteering in your child’s classroom and maybe it feels like that parent’s child receives preferential treatment from the teacher. Even though this may not be the case, it’s important for your child’s teacher to know who you are and that you are invested in your child’s education and will make every effort you can, work permitting, to be involved.

4. Volunteer When You Can 

Schools are always looking for volunteers and there are events in the evening after work or on the weekends where you might be able to find the time to play an important and necessary role planning and setting up for those events.

5. Volunteer at Home

There is often volunteer work that can be done at home. For big events, school committees might be looking for people to do planning, scheduling, or financial work at home in the evenings. Even though you cannot take valuable time off work to be present during the school day, you can still have a sense of the rewarding nature of this effort by finding time in the evening or weekends to be involved.