All moms struggle to find more hours in each day. Trying to find time for your kids, your partner, your job, your house, your friends and if possible time for you, doesn’t leave much time for anything else. The thought of having time to get involved with school volunteering may seem like something only magical unicorns and wizards can accomplish. But it isn’t.
One of the most important things a parent can do is have a presence at their child’s school. Giving of your time can have a lasting impact on your child and the school, and also shows your child a positive example of giving back. Not to mention all kids love it when their parents help out. Well younger kids love it, if your child is in high school they might not love it so much.
Whether you have an hour or day there is a school volunteering opportunity that can fit into your busy schedule – promise. When choosing where to help, pick something that you enjoy doing, so if you need to rearrange your busy schedule it will seem less of a chore.
Join Your Schools Parent Committee
Whether it’s called the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), School Action Committee (SAC) or Parent Participation Organization (PPO), every school has a parent-led body. This Committees role may vary from creating school ordnances, raising funds or running school events, but they offer a multitude of ways you can get involved. The best thing is that most of the committees meet once a month, in the evenings. If you don’t have time to dedicate to events and fundraisers, you can always show up, voice your opinion and vote on matters that will affect the school.
Spend Time in Your Child’s Classroom
You can volunteer to read, help prepare or clean up activities, give introductory lessons on your hobbies or skills, tutor struggling students and some teachers even allow parents to help grade homework. Worried about the time commitment? Perhaps you can volunteer to help prepare the classroom in the morning before work. Every one morning a week will be useful to your school.
Email your child’s teacher and let them know how much time you have to dedicate, when you are available and what types of things you would like to do. Not all help has to be done in the classroom. Many teachers need different shapes cut out, packets put together or classroom decorations created for upcoming projects. These items can be sent home with your child and you can complete them when you are able. Not to mention Libraries in schools can always use an extra hand or two for sorting and re-shelving.
While reaching out don’t forget to thank your teacher for all they do. Teachers are generally under paid and under appreciated. You can take this opportunity to show they matter and you are thankful for all they do to help shape your children.
Volunteer for a Day
Some parents are able to volunteer at school every week or even every day. Working moms don’t usually have that luxury, but they are usually able to take one day off work. Offer to be the parent chaperone for an outing. You will get to share an experience with your child, see them interacting with friends, get extra face time with the teacher and have a chance to meet other parents.
Special events, and especially fundraising events can seem intimidating. Perhaps you have graphics skills to create a flyer for a fundraiser, are a budding Martha Stewart who can make items for bake sales or special events, or you can type like a wiz, so compiling minutes from committee meetings would be a breeze.
One of the biggest things people forget about is setting up and cleaning up from events. Even if it’s only a few hours a year, everyone is grateful for extra help with those tasks. Since big events are usually in the evenings or weekends, it should be easy for working parents to squeeze it in. This is also a great place for working dads to help – strong volunteers to move chairs and stack tables are always required!
Offer Your Skills as a One-Time Volunteer
If your job does not allow you the flexibility to volunteer on a regular basis, perhaps you can volunteer for one specific task.
Here are some ways that you can use your skills or hobbies to help your child’s school.
- Help plant a class or school garden. Many schools have a focus on the environment and nutritional eating, if you have a green thumb you can offer help planting or taking care of the garden on the weekends or during summer.
- Use your photo skills. If you are a professional or amateur photographer you can offer to cover events or activities to take photos.
- Graphically-abled? Schools do not have marketing or graphics budgets. You can offer your skills for fundraising events, school activities or event school yearbooks.
- Volunteer in a school or classroom computer lab. Although our children are being raised in a computer-enhanced age, not all teachers have the skills necessary to keep white boards and iPads running. Offer your services to help fix any problems.
- If you have business and writing skills, you can help school administrators prepare grant proposals, letter-writing campaigns, press releases or provide other administrative assistance.
- Love science or engineering? Supervise or judge experiments at a science fair.
- Are you creative? Offer to help with visual arts, crafts, and design courses and projects.
- If you have skills at sewing or carpentry, you could volunteer to help sew costumes or build sets for theatrical or music productions.
Remember, the time you spend at your child’s school counts and creates lasting memories for your child AND YOU!