10 Easy Ways to Help Your Child’s School
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
I hate volunteering at my kids’ school.
I’m a “highly qualified” former school teacher, an experienced tutor, and mom to three, yet going into a second grade classroom to run a reading group for a teacher or help with a party for 25 seven year olds is what my nightmares are made of.
I can’t put my finger on any one thing that turns me off about it, it’s all parts of the experience combined that makes me cringe, but there are just so many other things I’d rather being doing on a Tuesday morning.
Despite my loathing of the activity, I am a firm believer in the fact that all parents need to be involved in their school community; it’s our duty as parents of children who benefit from public education. I get that some of us have to work (I know I do), and I understand that every family is different (I’ve got some single parent experience under my belt too), but those things aside, if we intend to gripe about things our school isn’t doing right, or take credit for the awesome they are producing, we all have to do our part.
But, what “doing your part” looks like is totally up for interpretation.
10 Easy Ways to Help Your Child’s School
1. Join the PTA. I took this to the extreme (I’m on the board of my kids’ school as the Treasurer), but just singing up and paying your membership fee is a HUGE help. PTAs use their funds to directly benefit the school community, usually by investing in additional classroom materials and/or enrichment experiences (like assemblies and magazine subscriptions) for the students.
2. Volunteer to help at home. #3 was born a couple of months after #1 started kindergarten. Being mom to a newborn and a toddler made me a poor candidate for in-class volunteering. So, I found another way to help! I just asked my son’s teacher to send home things she wanted cut, or made into packets and I worked on those in my jammie pants from the comfort of my own couch.
3. Donate items. Hand sanitizer, plastic bags, tissue, extra stickers you get at the $1 store. I try to just pick up an extra something when I make my Target runs. Often I forget, but sometimes I remember, and according to The Dudes’ teachers, sometimes is way better than never ever.
4. Let them benefit when you shop. Lots of school participate in escrips (the receipt programs at grocery stores and Target) and Box Tops. All you have to do is sign up at your store of choice and remember to cut off the box label before you chuck it in the garbage. So easy. Your school not participating in these programs? Well, sign them up! You can volunteer to manage one of these for your school and it won’t take more than an hour of your time each month, if that.
5. Help with a club. Have a hobby or a talent you think kids at your school would enjoy as well? Consider starting a club or helping out with one that’s already established. Parents have brought a running club, a gardening club, a computer club, numerous book clubs, and a service club to our school.
6. Volunteer to chaperone. Field trips are fun, but they can’t happen without parent volunteers.
7. Go make copies. Making photocopies takes a big chunk of time out of a classroom teacher’s day. We have parents at our school whose only job is to make copies once a week.
8. Run their Facebook page or website. Or use your technical skills or social media savvy to help in some other way.
9. Get your work place involved. There are so many creative ways that businesses and schools can collaborate to make a stronger overall community. From sponsoring events to opening their doors to allow students to visit (as tourists or interns), businesses can be a valuable resource to the schools in their community.
10. Just be nice. Bring in donuts for the teachers one day. Take a Saturday afternoon to clean up the trash around the school building. Or, just take a moment to shoot off a thank you email. Believe me when I say that most teachers aren’t doing it for the money; they’re doing it because they have a passion for education and because they care about kids. Including yours! Not many other people you can say that about, so take a minute or two out of your year to stop by and just fist bump them. Fist bumps can go a long way.