We know all moms work, but when you work outside the home — or even from home — finding ways to volunteer and be involved in your child’s school can be difficult. However, it's not impossible to connect and help out.
It's not just the room mom that matters
If you think the only gigs are the room mom and field trip chaperone, we found plenty of other ways to be involved in the classroom that won’t involve taking a vacation day from work.
Being a part of your child’s classroom experience not only helps you feel more connected to his everyday life, it also shows him you care about his education. Being a mom who works outside the home makes it more difficult to be present in the classroom each week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be a part of your child’s school experience as a volunteer.
Scope it out
Before you go raising your hand to volunteer, take a bit of time to think about what you are willing to offer. Time commitments are best laid out ahead of time, so that your intentions are clear. If you would love to grade weekly tests, but can only work during the weekday evenings, then grading a Friday spelling test over the weekend may not be a great fit for you. Think about whether you can commit on the same day each week, or if you will need to have a volunteer position that is flexible.
Most schools have several small-scale fundraisers during the school year and one larger event. A school carnival, field day, silent auction or dinner/dance for parents are just a few large events that are common in the lower grades. With school funding being cut more each year, teachers rely on these fundraisers to supplement classroom materials, buy equipment that will enhance learning and purchase books for the library. Volunteering to help plan and run one of the main fundraisers during the year is a great way to establish your presence at your child’s school. Connecting with other parents who plan and work at these events gives you a different perspective on how the school functions, who your child’s classmates are and what to expect in the years ahead. Contact your child’s teacher or PTA president to let them know you are interested.
Why not use some of your experience and knowledge to help run the details of your child’s school behind the scenes? Your PTA board members are other parents just like you, who donate their time to plan the details of each school year. School assemblies, fundraisers, community events, teacher appreciation events and even allocation of donated funds are all jobs that may fall to the members of the PTA board. Do you have business experience in balancing budgets, running meetings, organizing committees or soliciting donations from local merchants? Your school’s PTA would be a great place to make a difference — without sacrificing time away from your job.
Take it home
Your child’s teacher is most likely stretched to the limit during the day. With an ever-increasing number of students and more curriculum requirements each year, the average teacher spends a lot of time after school with prep work and grading. Especially at the elementary school level, most teachers welcome parents who are able to take home projects and bring them back when complete. Whether it’s grading weekly spelling tests or cutting out shapes for a math project, helping your child’s teacher be more prepared for a day of learning helps not only your kid, but the whole class. This is a great way to connect with what’s going on in your child’s classroom.
Many classroom teachers like to implement either a website, phone tree or an email system to keep in contact with parents. Setting this up is time-consuming for teachers, so why not offer to help? Taking the time in the evenings to either set up a website, initiate a phone tree call or send an email to all parents is most likely an easy task for a working parent. An added bonus is the chance for all of the other parents to get to know your name. The more parents who know you, the more likely it is that your child will be invited to birthday parties or other gatherings — and that they will allow their child to come to your home.
Volunteering and being involved at your child’s school shows him that you care about his education. Even if you work outside the home and are too busy to help during classroom hours, there is always a way to connect and help out at school.
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