Mom’s Guide To Getting Involved
At Your Child’s School
As a former PTO president, I know from personal experience there’s a volunteering opportunity for everyone – regardless of school or grade, working or stay-at-home mom, introvert or extrovert. I loved when my mom volunteered at my elementary school, and I’m sure kids today feel the same (except the time I wore a wig on Halloween during my lunchroom volunteer shift).
The benefits our children reap from us being involved at their schools (and it’s not just elementary, but middle and high school too!) is plentiful. We are showing an interest in their education, and by investing our time, we are showing our belief in and support of their school. Through volunteering you learn more about the school environment and staff, and research shows that volunteering increases teacher morale.
However, finding opportunities, and breaking into an established community can be difficult. In addition, the number one barrier to parenting volunteering is time constraints. I also believe there’s a stereotype around PTO moms (think Christina Applegate in the movie Bad Moms). I promise there’s something for you, and most importantly, a like-minded tribe waiting for you.
Here are some ways to get involved at your child’s school:
- Go to PTO/PTA meetings. This is a great way to meet the volunteer community, get a pulse on the culture of the school, and find out what opportunities are available. If you’re unable to attend the meetings, ask for a call-in number so you can listen-in.
- Talk to your child’s teacher and ask about her/his classroom needs, and what she/he believes the school needs.
- Go to the open house at the beginning of the year, and try to attend state of the school meetings. These give you a good idea of what’s happening around campus.
- Read the weekly newsletter and sign-up to receive other communication (again, make sure you READ them).
- Talk to the school secretary. She/he is often very aware of what is needed and available, or can put you into contact with someone who can help.
- Pinpoint your interests: Event planning, classroom time, books, finances, marketing, crafts, fundraising, spirituality, communication, monetary donation, lunchroom, chaperone, spirit, lobbying/advocacy, board liaison, yearbook, directory, box tops, landscaping, hosting, parent education resources, sponsorships, community service, driver on field trips, academic competitions, tutoring, playground monitor, coaching, lead a club, etc. In addition to a PTO organization, there’s almost always a Booster club as well.
- Examine your availability in committing to volunteering: once a week/month? Something you’d like to do in the evenings when the kids are asleep? During the day?
- Ensure you have the needed documentation to be an approved volunteer.
Most importantly, REMOVE THE GUILT. Everyone shows up in their own way.
You aren’t married to one volunteering role forever. In fact, I think it’s best to vary your responsibilities. I personally found going to the school advisory board meetings were eye opening and informative. It’s a good way to have your voice heard. I loved helping during teacher appreciation week. It’s here where I met the teachers my kids would have several years later, and was able to interact and deservedly spoil them.
Jump in – you are ready! We’d love to hear about your experiences with getting involved with your child’s school.