Count Me In: Volunteering

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There is nothing more valuable than the gift of your time and energy. Volunteering at your child’s school is a wonderful way to be involved in your child’s school life and give back to your community. Not only will you be building a closer bond with your child, you will be sending a positive message you consider their school and education worthy causes. Not sure how and where to begin, let these tips guide you to becoming an important role model in your community.

Ways to Help Out
Every school offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Helping in your child’s classroom could include reading to the class, tutoring literacy in small groups, or assisting in math workshops. Volunteering in your child’s classroom will give you the opportunity to get to know your child’s teacher much better. The more face time you have with their teacher, the more likely you will have a higher level of parent-teacher communication.
Classroom volunteering will give you the chance to meet your child’s friends and get a better understanding of the friendships your child is forming. You will see firsthand your child’s daily activities and get a clearer understanding of school structure and curriculum. These valuable insights are gained only by being in your child’s classroom.
There are many volunteering opportunities outside the classroom such as helping out during a school event, chairing a committee, or serving on the Parent Teacher Association board. It is a great way to get to know teachers, administrators and other parents. You will increase your knowledge of the school through your experiences and the people you meet.

Class Parent
Another excellent way to connect with your child’s classroom is being the Class Parent. The role of the Class Parent is the liaison between the classroom teacher and parents. Duties could include organizing and maintaining a class contact list for families, handling communications via email, organizing classroom events, or coordinating chaperones for field trips.

Let Your Child Know
Prior to signing up for in-classroom opportunities, have a talk with your child. Most children enjoy having their parents involved, if you get the feeling your child would be uncomfortable or distracted by you in their classroom, go a different route. Take a behind-the-scenes approach by volunteering in the school library, for a special event or during the book fair.

Words of Caution
If you are volunteering in the classroom, be careful not to give your child special treatment. Keep everyone on the same level. Showing favoritism could potentially cause more harm than good to your child. If you encounter an unruly child, always defer to the teacher to handle the situation. Let the teacher give the discipline. Don’t overstep your boundaries. You are there to support a teacher, not co-teach.

For The Greater Good
Volunteering requests will arise throughout the school year. Pitch in whenever you can. Any way you can lend a helping hand to your child’s school, your efforts will be greatly appreciated by teachers and administrators. There is no better way to spend a few hours for a chance to inspire, educate, and motivate future generations.

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer who has volunteered in her daughter’s elementary school for five years. Her volunteer duties included Volunteer Coordinator, Class Parent, and weekly fluency tutoring in the classroom.