There are so many reasons to get involved at your child’s school. You will be volunteering your time but you will be the one who will reap the most rewards. In whatever time constraints you have, chances are, there is something in the school you can help with.
Due to moving, we’ve been in five different elementary schools, in five school districts. They were all very different in the kind of help they wanted and needed.
No matter what, you can get involved if you want to. Many times, there are volunteer jobs you can do from home, which helps when you work full time.
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Reasons to get involved at your child’s school
When our kids are young, it’s a lot easier to make friends with other parents. As they age out of play dates and life gets busier, it’s more difficult to make friends.
Everyone is over-committed and scheduled. And if you are new to a school, it’s even more of a challenge.
However, when you volunteer at your child’s school, you will tend to see the same people repeatedly. There are certain volunteers who step up, and they tend to do more than one thing.
No matter what your child’s grade, you will get to know parents as you work side-by-side at Jog-a-thons, bake sales, and planning fall festivals.
You know what’s going on
The parents and guardians who volunteer tend to know more about what’s going on at school.
Be a part of something bigger
If you are a stay-at-home parent with little ones, sometimes it’s monotonous. Sure, it’s great, but at times it’s mundane. When you volunteer at your child’s school, or anywhere, you are contributing to the greater good. And you get out of your own mind. You can come back home refreshed and ready to handle your routines.
Get to observe the students
Whether you help in the classroom, shelve books at the library, or help at a school event, you will get to see your child’s classmates and students in other grades. You will relate better to your child’s stories about these children. And likely, will will start to form some opinions yourself.
Teachers and staff get to know you
Teachers don’t always have time to reach out to you via email, but you may get to hear something nice your son or daughter did, etc., just because you are there. They are also likely to view you as a proactive, involved parent.
Students get to know you
Not only will the faculty get to know you, but the students will too. You will be charmed by the smiles and hellos you get. They will vie for your attention when they are younger.
Connect with other parents
Even if you don’t become fast friends, when you volunteer at your child’s school you gain the opportunity to talk to other adults. Especially for stay-at-home-parents, this can be really satisfying and more real than interacting on Facebook and other social media.
Sure, you won’t love everyone, but you will have the chance to gravitate toward the moms and parents you do like.
Revive your skills and learn new ones
Often, parents leave the workforce after having children. Volunteering at your child’s school is a great way to get back in a professional capacity, renewing skills, learning new ones, and taking on responsibility.
Make your kids proud
Your children will see how much you care about their school experience, and they will love seeing you. Set a great example for your kids and let them see you in action.
Kids see us at the Parent At Home
Volunteering at their school is an awesome opportunity to let them see you shine in other ways.
How to help at school
Some teachers want parents in the classroom, even in the older grades. Others may try to accommodate kindergarten parents by letting them help with stations but nothing else.
However, most teachers don’t ask for any help in the classroom. There are many reasons for this, but one is teachers need to focus on their students, not on the parents.
Whether or not you are actually in your child’s classroom really doesn’t matter. It’s often better not to be so your child has a chance to learn to be without you.
Assist teacher as needed
In these cases, you can offer your help to your child’s teacher by being behind the scenes. You can offer your services to makes copies and/or assist the teacher in any way he or she needs. Maybe you help out on a special activity day or class project.
You can always volunteer to be a room parent. In this role, you can help the teacher with specific things he or she needs but likely won’t be interacting with the students. Oftentimes, the room parent role can be done from home.
If your child’s main teacher doesn’t want any help, which is often the case, there are still ways to help at school. You can reach out to the specials’ teachers.
The librarian often will welcome your help shelving books. In one of our schools, this was the only way I helped at school. My kids had a class in the library once a week.
A few times a month, I would sign up to help during my kids’ library times. I would put away dozens of books while being able to observe my child’s library time.
It was surprising to me how many students would come up to me to ask for help finding books. It was great to be able to help the kids and get to know them a little bit.
Perhaps the school librarian will identify some emerging readers you can read with.
Some librarians may ask for your help with the Scholastic Book Fair if the school has one. At the end of the school year, school librarians often inventory the books. These are great ways to help as well.
PE is often an area that parents don’t think about. Sometimes, the PE teacher may welcome help. He or she is usually the person who organizes a school-wide Field Day. Perhaps you can help with that.
Other times, they may be the one to organize the school walk-a-thon or jog-a-thon. Chances are, the PE teacher will need help counting and logging laps.
Like with all teachers, you can always put it out there that you are available, and when something comes up, they may contact you.
If your child is lucky enough to still have art in school, that’s great. It’s a program that often cut. Find out if there is any way the art teacher could use your help. Like with PE and the Librarian, the specials’ teachers typically see every student in the entire school.
The art teacher may welcome you helping in the younger grades, especially if they are working with a new medium or doing a more involved or messy project.
Parent Teacher Group
The school’s Parent Teacher Group (PTG) or Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) or Parent Teacher Association (PTA) are parent-supported groups which help in several ways at school. Chances are, your child’s school has one of these volunteer organizations which includes all the parents/guardians and faculty.
The organization is responsible for fundraising; supporting the teachers and faculty; organizing events to create a sense of community; and bridging the gap between school and families.
The school’s PTG, PTO, PTSG (Parent Teacher Student Group) or PTA likely can use your help. There are so many volunteer opportunities, from one-time commitments to more frequent jobs.
If you’ve ever heard the term, “She’s a PTA mom,” this is a mom who does a ton at the school. Thank her! Sometimes it’s meant as one of those moms, and not in a flattering way.
Yes, those moms who are volunteering to make school a better place for all students and staff… including YOUR CHILD. Don’t shame her! Cheers to the PTA moms! You can be one too. Find out how.
Volunteering at school from home
There are opportunities to help from home, to send emails, apply for grants, order supplies for events, and more. You can even clip, count, and mail in Box Tops to raise money. Now that they are going digital, you can be the one to help everyone transition.
Helping with school events and fundraisers
If you enjoy events, chances are there is a school-wide social event fundraiser such as a fall festival, spring carnival, father-daughter dance, mother-son event, BINGO night, silent auction, etc.
You can chair or co-chair one of these events; volunteer to bring snacks or whatever they need; help set up or clean up after the event; and/or volunteer at the event itself.
Attend PTG meeting
There are likely to be Parent Teacher Group (PTG), Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Student Group (PTSG) meetings.
These are typically monthly but some schools have them every other month or even quarterly. Attending a PTG meeting is a great place to learn more about what is happening at your child’s school.
While it may be intimating to attend a meeting for the first time, everyone will be likely be happy you are there. Even if you just want to observe and can’t commit to helping, you will be welcome.
PTG meetings and PTO meetings, etc. are not about cliques or a select group. They are for everyone and anyone who wants to know more about what’s going on at the school.
Find out when the meetings are
Some PTG meetings are on weekday evenings and some may be during the morning after drop off or toward the end of a school day. They try to accommodate parents’ busy schedules but realize that everyone is busy. Know that when the board schedules these meetings, they are doing their best. They realize “people work.” Many of them do as well.
Recognize it’s impossible to pick the perfect time that works for everyone. The PTO board members who plan the meetings are working around their busy schedules as well. As volunteers, they are doing their best to get other volunteers involved.
Often the principal and faculty members are there to represent administration and the teachers. You will learn a lot at these meetings.
Whether your school has a PTG, a PTO, PTSG, or a PTA, get involved! In the cases of PTG, PTO, and PTSG, you are automatically members without having to pay any fees or do anything!
Check if your school fundraising PTA charges dues for membership.
And remember, while it seems everyone “has all this time to volunteer,” that isn’t typically the case.
Many of the most involved parents are the ones who work full time and have busy home schedules as well. Working parents and non-working parents are all welcome.
Know that you do not have to attend a PTG or PTO meeting in order to volunteer at your child’s school.
Ways PTG can use your help
Plan events at school:
What does your school’s PTO organize? There might be dances, a fall festival, movie nights, silent auction, Bingo, yearbook signing party, talent show, back to school night, carnival, end of the year celebration, and on and on.
You can help with the planning and/or assist with the event itself. No matter how much time you have, events generally have small jobs and larger tasks. You are sure to find something to help with.
Sometimes these events are for community-building; other times they are aimed at fundraising. Often, they are a combination of the two.
There are Box Tops for Education, gift card programs, Amazon Smile, Coke Rewards, grocery loyalty codes, and more. Perhaps your school partners with area restaurants for them to give your PTG money as a result of sales for an evening. Someone has to organize and promote all of these.
Maybe you came from a school that had a successful fundraiser that you want to be in charge of at your new school.
Do you have experience or interest in writing grants? Do you want to help with the annual school fundraiser looking for outside sponsors or raffle basket and silent auction items?
Really, there are all sorts of ways to help with fundraising. Even if you are not comfortable asking directly for money, goods or services, there are plenty of ways to be involved.
Fill a board position:
The PTG or PTO will need a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary for sure. There are likely to be other positions as well. Some people might be intimidated to jump right into one of these roles; however, it’s likely everyone will be glad if you volunteer to do one.
Depending on the board terms, many positions are only for one year. There is turnover every year.
Be a committee chair:
Some schools may include other other positions as board positions. However, more likely is the PTO will have committee chairs. A committee chairperson will hold a position in which you are in charge of something specific. They all involve different levels of volunteer commitment.
Some examples of one-time events include:
- Spring carnival, fall festival, bingo night, auction, spaghetti dinner, sock hop, or other event
- Holiday shop
- Annual fundraising campaign
Other chair positions can be for ongoing roles, such as:
- Outside events
- School events
- Staff appreciation
- Website management
Being in any of these positions doesn’t mean you have to do all of the responsibilities yourself. Everyone knows moms are busy.
Ultimately, it will be up to you to see everything through to fruition; however, depending on the position, you will likely have other people helping.
Volunteer as needed:
Give your contact info to the person in charge of volunteers. In this way, when there is a need for help, they will can call you. If your schedule permits, you can agree to help. If not, that’s okay too.
Support teachers and staff:
The PTG or PTO may do special meals or snacks for the staff during test days or conferences, or Teacher Appreciation Week.
Bring new ideas:
Do you have an idea? Bring it to someone on the board or talk about it at the next PTG meeting.
One of our schools started with just a few small events and ways to fundraise, and now has blossomed into having many more traditions, thanks to new people who brought new ideas.
Ways to help at school
After school clubs
Maybe you volunteer to help with the school’s student council or other special interest club, like the school newspaper, math club, or yearbook. No matter what your talents, there is likely a group that would benefit from an adult mentor.
You can offer your assistance to the hard-working office staff. Maybe you can help sort out old files or make and distribute copies.
Does your child see special resource teachers for math, speech, help with reading, or for the school’s gifted program? You can reach out to that person to offer your assistance. Many schools welcome adults to read one-on-one with students or to help with math, especially in the younger grades.
Start a school beautification program. Take care of the plants. Start a garden.
Volunteer at your child’s school
No matter what your interest, time and talents, chances are there will be something you can do to volunteer in some capacity at your child’s school.
You will meet new people and get to help out in any way that suits your interests. There are many ways to volunteer at school as well as helping out from home.
Your kids will be grown way too soon. Embrace this time in your life and volunteer if you can. You will be helping your school community and feel more a part of it as well.
My name is Liz, and my kids have been in more schools than I care to admit. I have tons of experience with moving, being new to schools, making new friends, and keeping in touch with friends I no longer get to see regularly.
In addition, I was on the PTO and PTG boards at three of my kids’ schools. I’ve made thousands of copies, decorated teachers’ doors, collected money for teacher gifts, baked cookies, made food for Teacher Appreciation week, sold tickets at school events, mailed in Box Tops, scheduled dine out nights and restaurant fundraisers, made class raffle baskets, emailed parents, and set up and cleaned up after events.
Trust me, there is something to do in some capacity at the school.
Learn more about me and my contributions to socialmum.com.