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Back to School: 4 Volunteering Tips for Busy Parents

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VolunteeringBack to school time already seems like a whirlwind of shopping, driving, crying (cheering!), and getting back into the homework groove. It doesn’t help matters that this time is compounded by a flurry of questions from all the important people in your life.

Mom and Child playing     “Mom, can I get these new shoes?”

     “Hun, what’s for dinner?”

     “Can you stay late at work?”

     And finally, “Can you sign up to help at school this year?” 

For the last question, making the right decisions when it comes to your family and supporting your school is easy when you use these 4 helpful volunteer tips!

How to Volunteer as a Busy Parent

1.  Be Realistic

You know your family’s schedule best—be realistic with what your calendar looks like and go from there. Can you spare 30 minutes or one morning per term to read to your child’s class? How about per month? Whether you sign up to help the teacher for an hour each week or plan to help with a class party or organize the annual school fundraiser, your time is best spent when you are meaningfully choosing how to spend it. Enjoy the good you are doing and don’t get bogged down with trying to help out with everything; quality over quantity will most benefit your family and your school.

2.  Be Creative

Are you unable to be IN the school building volunteering? Get creative and volunteer your time at home at your convenience:

  • Work with your child in preparing craft kits for the class party or cutouts for the bulletin board. When your work shows up at school, your child will be proud that you contributed to the class together.
  • Offer your technical skills and social network to help manage school websites or school social media accounts like Facebook or twitter.
  • Ask the teacher if you can help keep the class website fresh and update parent and educational resources on Pinterest.
  • Network in the community on behalf of the school fundraiser to find local retailers who may be willing to offer special deals and discounts for the auction or raffle.
  • Support school fundraisers; be sure plan ahead to avoid family fundraising fatigue.

3.  Be Resourceful

Long gone are the days of reply-all emails, phone-trees, and paper sign up sheets. If you volunteer to coordinate parent volunteers at your school this year, save time, stress, and get more done with less coordination effort with free online sign up sheets from VolunteerSpot.com.

iPad Clipboard VolunteerSpot Signup Sheet Teachers and parent leaders can set up their schedule of needs online (be it for weekly classroom volunteers or to staff the booth at the school carnival) and easily invite parents to sign with an invitation or link in an email, on the school website or Facebook page. Parents sign up in a few taps from their computer or smartphone and receive automated confirmation and reminder messages. Organize classroom readers and party volunteers, recess and library helpers, snack schedules, and even fundraisers like carnivals, walkathons and book fairs. (It’s great for teams and Scouts, too!)

New this year! Make things even easier with VolunteerSpot’s new iPad app “Clipboard by VolunteerSpot.” It lets coordinators pass their iPads around at parent meetings, back to school nights, committee gatherings, and sign parents up ON THE SPOT!

 

4.  Be Skillful

Maybe recess supervising or working the book fair isn’t your niche. Find something you know will benefit the school or classroom that you actually love to do, and ask how you can contribute. Enrichment programs, including art and music, are often the first to be cut when budget cuts hit a district. Can you donate your time leading a creative project? How about helping in the school garden, computer lab, chess, dance, or language clubs?

Back to school time shouldn’t be a storm of “Can you?” and “Will you?” questions, especially when it comes to your child’s school. Instead, ask yourself, “What am I most looking forward to participating in at my child’s school this year?” Be realistic with your time and support something you truly enjoy!

All efforts, big and small, are appreciated and valued in your child’s classroom and in the school as a whole.

Happy Back-to-School!

 What is your favorite way to volunteer at your child's school?

Jessica Young loves being the community manager at VolunteerSpot. VolunteerSpot saves time and makes it easy to coordinate all the people and things that help you make a difference in your communities and schools. Free and easy signup sheets and volunteer scheduling boost participation and put an end to ‘reply-all’ email chains, spread sheet juggling, and paper sign-up sheets! Take a tour today!

Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

 

 

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