Whether your child is entering kindergarten or their senior year in high school, you may be wondering how to get involved in helping your child's school (and consequently your child) thrive. It's never too late to jump in!
Parent participation on school campuses doesn't just help the school—it demonstrates a value of your child's education and helps them take pride in their work at school.
Simply attending parent-teacher conferences, school-wide meetings or back-to-school night is considered involvement. But if you want to go a step further, you can use those opportunities to ask your child's teacher or school administration about volunteer work. Parent/teacher organizations and associations exist at almost every school and are another great place to start, as they likely already have structure in place to support volunteers looking for ways to help out.
If you're worried about stepping on your child's toes, talk with them or their teacher to find a solution that works best for everyone. Communicating that you want to help and be a part of making their school experience a positive one is a simple place to start. They may even have some ideas for how you can get involved!
Room Parent/Classroom Helper
This kind of role disappears once your kids enter secondary school, so take advantage of it while your kids are young! If you have the time, taking on the title of "room parent" can be incredibly rewarding. It puts you in the classroom working directly with the teacher and students to help in whatever ways make the most sense given your strengths and the needs of the classroom.
Since being in the classroom while your child is participating in their school routine can pose challenges, it's a good idea talk to them about staying focused and sharing your time with their classmates before showing up on your first day to help.
From helping with prep work for projects by cutting, copying or creating packets when needed, to working with students in small groups during rotations for art, science or even core subject practice in math and reading, there are endless ways to assist once you're in the classroom. Simply reach out to your child's teacher and ask how you might be able to lend a hand based on the days/times you're available and your strengths.
Perhaps you're more of a behind-the-scenes helper or your child is now too old for you to volunteer as room parent. If you also happen to be a strong writer, schools and/or teachers might take advantage of an offer to write grants or publishing PR articles in your local paper. These help inform the community of the amazing things the students and teachers at their local schools are doing and how they can participate.
Grant and article writing aren't exactly a top priority on a teacher's to-do list, but they can make a big difference in student success—making it the perfect way to volunteer your time if it fits your skillset.
Help Plan/Work Special Events
Do you have an idea to help get the community involved at the school? Or did you just love the art/career/science fair so much last year that you want to play a role this time around? If so, reach out!
While these events rely largely on student planning and effort, they don't thrive without the help of a lot of adults (including parents!). So plan ahead to run a station for the school's art night, or ask to judge at this year's science fair!
This is a fun way to participate if you're a full-time working parent, as these events are typically held in the evenings and are short term rather than a year-round commitment.
Another great way to get involved is to offer to read a story to your child's elementary classroom, provide a special art/science presentation or speak to the class about a particular career opportunity (especially if the school puts on a career day)!
You're not signing up for more than a single visit, so it's easy to volunteer with a busy schedule and still make a positive impact at your child's school. There are many people out there who ultimately followed a career path first inspired by the parent of a peer who presented during their school's career day.
A short read aloud or presentation to the class is a simple way for the students to feel seen, heard and cared for by the larger community (not just their teacher), which helps to foster a love of school and learning inside and outside the classroom walls.
Special Projects Volunteer
When it comes to volunteering, it's most important to make your interest, availability and strengths known.
If you're a seamstress, reach out to the theater department to see if it needs help preparing costumes for the next school play. If you love nature or are a member of a local organization that supports the environment, let your child's school know about how you might be able to support their campus garden or other initiatives. When you look at it through the lens of what you love to do or have expertise in, you may suddenly find it much easier to come up with ways to participate!
Additionally, keep an ear out for opportunities as they come up: field trip chaperones, sporting event help, someone to run the snack bar at football games or drivers for away games.
These school days will fly by before you know it, so if you're thinking about getting involved, reach out to your child's teacher, coach, office administrator or school PTA to get started!
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