Five Reasons to Say “Yes” to Volunteering at Your Child’s School

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Have you received your checklist yet?  You know, the double-sided piece of paper from your child’s school PTA, offering 101 volunteer opportunities over the next nine months?  I approach that official document with a mixture of altruistic willingness to help where I am needed, eager desire to be a “fly on the wall” in my child’s home-away-from-home, and guilty fear that I may be treading into helicopter mom territory.

This year, I sat with the list. I stared at it. I considered my options.  Then, I did what any 2010 mom would do: I Googled it. With a little help from the National Education Association’s (NEA) website and an honest soul search, here are my five best reasons to volunteer this year at my daughter’s school:

1.     Teachers Teach More Effectively

According to the NEA, when parents volunteer their time to help out with classroom chores, such as making/taking down bulletin boards, sorting permission slips, and other time-consuming detail-work, they free teachers to spend more time on their field of expertise—educating young minds!

2.    Children Learn Better

NEA statistics indicate that school-aged children whose parents have high levels of involvement in their schools, are more likely to earn high grades and less likely to have ever repeated a grade.

3.     Children Enjoy School More

Likewise, children whose parents volunteer at their school report greater enjoyment of school and show a high level of involvement in extracurriculars, such as sports and clubs.

4.    Children See That You Care About Them and Their Education

It’s not that PTA members are going to “close the door” on volunteers or shut any willing parent out of an opportunity to volunteer, but rather that there is only a short window of time overall that children are young!  As kids move on to middle and high school, the call for parent volunteers wanes. Use it or lose it. Now or never. Make the most of your time in these years to observe your child in his natural landscape, get a feel for the friendships he is involved in, see him through his teachers’ eyes, and send him the message that you care enough to give your time.

5.    Parent Has Opportunities to Bond With Both Child and Teacher

Last year, I was called upon to be my daughter’s “Room Mom.” It wasn’t necessarily a job I wanted, but also not one I had a reason to say “no” to.  The assignment was less than painless—it was fun!  I got to go on a field trip early on in the year which gave me the chance to get to know all of the kids in her class. This proved to be a boon to carrying on meaningful conversations with my daughter about her peer interactions.  Over the course of the year, I sent a few e-mails and organized a few low-key parties, but most of all, I bonded with my daughter and her teacher in a non-intrusive way.

This year, my daughter has asked me several times to be her Room Mom again this year.  I don’t want to be a Room-Mom-hog and would certainly defer the opportunity to another willing parent, but I feel blessed by the fact that my child still welcomes me into her classroom and wants me to be there.  Most kids, in the elementary school years, are still thrilled at having their parents visible and available from time to time in school.  I know I’ll be an embarrassment to her soon enough, so I might as well enjoy the time while I am still a source of pride for her!

By Signe Whitson, LSW.  Signe is a featured writer for Psychology Today and has been working children for over 10 years.  Her advice and book can be found at her blog on passive aggressive behavior.  She has partnered with a baby clothes boutique to bring her work to the parenting community.  Check them out next time you need a new baby hat, flowered headband, or even a unique baby shower gift.  You will not be disappointed.
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