Volunteering in School
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Volunteering at your child’s school can serve a number of purposes. It can convey to your child your commitment to education in general and his school program in particular. It can give you a chance to see first-hand some of the educational programs and activities at his school. It can give you an opportunity to get to know your child’s teacher and principal, which may be especially helpful if he experiences difficulties. And it may help you develop connections with other parents.
Parents typically have a range of opportunities to volunteer in their child’s school. The following are examples of ways that you can help out:
- being a room parent
- helping students with schoolwork
- reading stories to students during recess
- helping out at a class party
- talking to your child’s class about your profession or a particular hobby
- serving on a school committee to revise the disciplinary code
- putting up bulletin boards
- serving as an aide in the library, on the playground or on the bus
- running a club after school • participating in teacher appreciation activities
- taking photographs of school activities
- attending PTA or PTO meetings
While you may work or otherwise have a busy schedule that allows little time for volunteering, helping out at your child’s school need not take a large commitment of time. If you are occupied during the day but are interested in volunteering, find out if there are things you can do during non-school hours. For example, you might offer to take care of the class rabbit during school vacation, prepare food for an ethnic festival, man the school booth at a weekend community fair, help construct a playground on a weekend, or sew costumes for the school play. Your child may feel pride and excitement that you are involved in school or class activities, even if it is during the evening or on weekends. If you work during the day, check if your employer will give you release time to share your skills with students in school or allow you to arrange a class visit to your place of work.
If you are interested in volunteering, talk with the principal or, if the school has one, the volunteer coordinator. Let them know of any special skills you have so they can find opportunities in school that match your talents.
When volunteering in school, keep in mind a few basic rules. Make sure to show up when you said you would. The school will be depending on you. If you are assisting in the classroom, take your cues from the teacher and avoid giving her advice or constructive criticism. And, of course, be encouraging, friendly and respectful to all the students.