Francophone Education


Getting involved at school
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How can you get involved in your child’s francophone school if you don’t speak French?

The wrong answer:

 The wrong answer is that you can’t. Even if you don’t understand a word of French, there are always things you can do in your kid’s school!

The right answer:

The right answer is that there’s no single answer. Instead, there are many, some of which you’ll find in Fusion and others in the new publication. It’s all about finding the right fit for both the teacher (or the librarian or other staff members) and you, a process that requires understanding and mutual respect.

A short exercise to start…

There are many ways to get involved. Simply attending school events is one, whether or not you understand everything that goes on. If you want to do more, there are various possibilities that don’t require knowledge of French.

Since getting involved takes time, the following exercise will help you start thinking about your options.

Would you be able to attend…




  • the December or year-end concert?




  • other events throughout the year?




  • a parent-teacher interview during the day?




  • a parent-teacher interview in the evening?




Would you be able to participate in any school or classroom activities…

  • in the morning?




  • at lunchtime?




  • in the afternoon?




  • in the evening?




  • on a weekend?





Do you hear that sound? That’s a door opening if you answered “Sure!” or “Maybe…” to any of these questions. Now it’s up to you and your child’s teacher to push it open wider. Have a look at pages 121–138 of Fusion and in the new publication for ideas.

First, though, take a moment to think about what you want to achieve by helping out in your child's school. Do you want to show how important education is to you? (You'll accomplish that for sure, no matter what task you end up doing.) Do you want to meet other parents? Do you want to get to know the staff better?

A popular, productive activity

One Ottawa school has found a way to achieve all those goals very successfully: it holds "laminating bees." (When parents enthusiastically told me about it, I immediately wondered how they got the bees Laminating_Beeinto the laminating machine. Then I wondered why they’d do such a strange thing in the first place…)

It turns out that a “laminating bee” is much like a quilting bee, but without the quilts and with a different group of people. Several teachers bring together all the documents they need to have photocopied, cut, coloured, etc. and then laminated. A group of parents joins the teachers one evening or on a Saturday morning, and they all work together like busy bees to get all the work done. The school provides a snack and coffee.

The best thing for parents who speak little or no French is that the laminating bee takes place in English, French and any other language that people want to speak! It’s a great opportunity for parents and teachers to get to know each other, and it helps the teachers immensely.

How about you?

If your school does something like this, or if you or your spouse have had other experiences (good or bad) or ideas about how to get involved in your kid’s school, feel free to share them!