From book fairs to serving lunch to running fundraisers, there are many volunteer opportunities for parents of school age children. Studies show that school communities with active and engaged parents produce more successful students.
Karen Bantuveris, Founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot says, “Parent involvement builds commitment to the school, improves participation in school fundraisers, and grows a stronger support for education outside the walls of the campus.”
Here are 10 tips on volunteering at your child’s school:
- Know your child. Some children love seeing their parent volunteer at school,while others may get embarrassed. For example, my older daughter loved for me to come over to her table and chat when I volunteered for lunch. But with my younger daughter preferred me to keep my distance, when I helped out and served lunch.
- Be a reliable volunteer. Only volunteer for assignments you can actually complete. There’s nothing more frustrating then getting a call right before an event that a volunteer suddenly cannot make it. Emergencies do occur, but if it is not a true emergency, honor your commitment. Be on time and leave when the task is over – you don’t want to get the teacher/class off schedule.
- Schools need both leaders and worker-bees. Play to your strengths and don’t take on something you are not comfortable with. When I first started volunteering at school, I was hesitant to lead any committees but happy to work on many. As my kids got older and I got more confident, I did take a leadership on several projects.
- Not everyone can be class parent. Especially in the lower grades, there may be more volunteers than needed for class parent or field trip chaperones. Try to be flexible and not get attached to one particular volunteer role at school. There are many ways to be involved in the classroom and the school. If you have never gone on trip and it is really important to your child, appeal to the class parent in a calm and rational manner (but try not to get upset if she cannot accommodate your request.)
- Be a team player. At our elementary school, we have a big school fundraiser where every parent is “required” to volunteer in some way and yet there are still some parents that refuse. In addition to being frustrating for the event coordinators not to have full participation, it sets a bad example for your child if you are unwilling to contribute when it is suppose to be a school wide effort.
- Be present. Volunteering is a great way to be an active participant in your child’s school life. Turn off your phone and be engaged.
- Teachers welcome additional support. Many teachers welcome parents with special skills or interests to come into the classroom and lead an activity or project Check with your child’s teacher to see if these opportunities are available in your child’s school.
- Remember why you are there. If you are in class to help with a project, help all the students not just your own child. Don’t use volunteer time as a chance to talk to the teacher about specific issues or to scold a student your child is having a problem with. Keep socializing with other parent volunteers to a minimum.
- Embrace the opportunity. Bantuveris says, “When parents help at school, they are sending a clear message to their kids that education is an important family value in your family. They also have an opportunity to build a strong rapport with the teacher and get a pulse on their child’s social circles.”
- Have fun!
My older daughters (now in HS and college) have fond memories of when I came into school to run a writing workshop and to teach art appreciation lessons. These are great memories for all of us.
Are you a volunteer? Tell us what works for you in comments?