Participating in the school life of your child is as easy as volunteering. Talk to your child’s teacher and offer your assistance. You would be surprised at the requests made of you, ranging from reading a Thanksgiving story in English, to baking chocolate chip cookies or just plain old collecting egg cartons or empty glass yogurt containers so that the youngsters can make even cuter arts and crafts for your enjoyment. Most schools have monthly field trips for their classes and parents are encouraged to attend as chaperons. If you have the time, it is a lovely little peak into the daily lives of your children and their friends.
Make an effort to speak with the other parents, even if your French is limited. Many parents are ecstatic at this international contact and will be willing to let you practice your French on them, or in the alternative, they will try to practice their English on you. In general, play groups are international in that the language of all children is ‘play’ and children can generally make themselves understood in ways that would baffle you and I.
Attend all the parent-teacher conferences and don’t hesitate to ask for a quick progress report on your child. Do not monopolize the teacher’s time, but be brief and to the point.
Most schools have some sort of parent/teacher association and elections are generally held at the beginning of the year to select one or two parents from each grade level to represent all parents of that level to the school. While language may prohibit you from filling one of these key positions, it is a good idea to introduce yourself to your representative. These parents work closely with the school administration and are expected to keep other parents informed of policies and current affairs of the school as well as give a collective voice to parents to the administators if there are complaints or suggestions. Knowing your representative and interacting with him or her often is a helpful way of staying on top of what’s going on at school.