Reasons to Join Parent Groups or Volunteer at your Child’s School
At orientation and during the first few weeks of school, schools are looking for parental involvement. Administrators know you already have a lot to do. You’re busy supporting your kids and driving them to and from activities. You’re also balancing your own work and personal needs at the same time. Now you’re supposed to volunteer? It doesn’t have to be time consuming. If you have even an extra hour each month to serve, here are some reasons to join parent groups or volunteer.
Shows that school is important
Whether your kids are in elementary, middle or high school, getting involved is modeling important values. It signals to your children how much you value their education.
Schools depend on volunteers and parent groups
Whether schools need monetary donations, time or expertise – parents often provide and do so consistently. In contrast, funding levels change almost every year. Many schools couldn’t afford to produce sporting events, theater or art shows without help from parents.
As mentioned above, with so many cutbacks to educational programs, parents help offset any loss the students themselves feel. Adults have experience, knowledge and skills that can fill in the gaps in STEM, arts and sports where needed. Students with involved parents also do better academically and socially. Their grades and test scores are higher, and they are more involved in extracurricular activities.
Property values go up, crime goes down
With higher parental involvement, not only do students get a higher quality education, people who don’t have children at all are also better off. Their neighborhoods are safer, and their homes are valued at a higher rate. Involvement helps the whole community.
Higher self-esteem in kids
Most kids love seeing their parents at school. Your presence, support or smiles can be reassuring and comforting. Kids also feel a sense of pride that their mom or dad is helping out.
Meeting with and talking to fellow parents can keep you in the loop. Your peers validate concerns, or not, about teachers, schoolwork, and typical behavior amongst kids. They also might provide a different point of view. It’s good to get out of the house and talk to people going through the same things as you.
Improves behavior in students
Teachers can’t possibly watch everyone at every moment. This is especially true during arrival in the morning, dismissal in the afternoon, classroom transitions, lunch and recess. When schools have more parents to supervise, kids behave better. There are fewer bullying incidents and fights.
Learn about what’s happening
Stay in the loop. Know ahead of time whether a new teacher is being hired or a program is being cut. Involved parents have some pull with their school. As a result, parent-run committees can positively affect change. Be that voice advocating for your child and all students.
Parent groups help teachers, too
Most teachers have to dig into their own wallets just to purchase needed supplies every year. Parental involvement often means teachers have access to more funding. This not only helps with day-to-day needs, it also helps with special items they need to do a good job. Including smartboards, electronic equipment, computer tablets and so much more. In elementary school, each classroom usually nominates a parent to coordinate all donations. They also coordinate volunteers for teacher appreciation days, his/her birthday parties, and the holiday celebrations.
Be a part of a team
Teachers, coaches, administrators and other parent volunteers spend a lot of time with your children. Get to know them. Calling them and working together is easier if you already have a solid relationship.
What are the different parent groups and ways to help?
When you attend an open house, orientation or the first parent-teacher conference, ask how you can get involved. They should have plenty of ideas. Let them know the times and dates you’re available.
You can also check the school’s website for ideas. Sign up for the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Parent-Teacher Organizations or parents’ advisory council. They might also have a FAQ section for parent groups or volunteers.
Be prepared to submit to a background check that includes fingerprints. This helps keep everyone safe.
Think about your own set of strengths. Parents with a financial background can assist with fundraising. Those in the tech industry can work on websites. Athletic parents supervise sports and artistic parents produce visual or performing arts productions. There are many ways to help.
Volunteer positions in most schools:
- Classroom aide or assistant
- Crosswalk attendant
- Special-needs assistance
- Classroom parent to organize donations and parties
- Parking, drop-off or pick-up attendant
- Lab assistant
- Organize fundraising activities
- Monitor lunch or recess
- Chaperone on field trips or at school events
- Work the concession stand at sports games
- Help with interest clubs
- Assist coaches
- Write grant proposals, letters or press releases for busy administrators
- Attend and speak out at school board meetings
- Assist in the library
- Make costumes or build sets
- Assist with the band or orchestra
- Collect arts supplies from local shops
- Help find ads for the yearbook or newspapers
- Hold student workshops in your area of expertise
- Offer to speak during the Great American Teach-In
- Act as judge during competitions, debates or science fairs
How to be everyone’s favorite volunteer
- Communicate clearly and consistently. Let them know how much time you can commit and then stick to it.
- Behave reliably. If you say you’re going to be there, make sure you are.
- Don’t overschedule yourself. You’ll burn out quickly. Start with one commitment a semester and see where it goes from there.
- Treat your children with a degree of neutrality. Don’t show favoritism over other students.
- Be flexible as things change throughout the school year.
- Seek feedback from teachers and administrators so you can continue to be helpful.
Not only is joining parent groups a way to help your child’s school, you’ll also be helping your child and the larger community. Volunteering your time is also personally fulfilling. It helps everyone.