RAISE YOUR HAND
To the degree that your schedule permits, help out in the classroom, participate in fund-raising, join the PTA, read the school newsletter. Your involvement lets your child know that his school is a part of your world, too. More than that, volunteering helps you watch out for your child's interests.
"A school is like any institution -- if you're involved, the people there are more inclined to be responsive," says Bonnie Kaye, of Fairfield, CT. "Because I was on the parent advisory board at my daughter Lindsey's preschool, I knew the director and the teachers. When Lindsey became quiet and withdrawn at school, it was easy to talk to her teacher about it -- we were friendly."
If you work full-time or for other reasons can't make such a commitment, you can still be involved through after-school activities and fund-raising efforts. "Let the school staff get to know your face," says Kaye. "The more you make clear that you care -- that you're part of the team -- the more credible an advocate you can be for your child."