Stay-at-home moms often have mixed feeling about their children starting school for the first time. After spending 5 plus years tending to their every need, moms suddenly find themselves with more free time on their hands. While some opt to return to the workforce, more and more moms are seeking out meaningful volunteer opportunities that allow them the flexibility to remain home while using their skills and talents to help their community. Volunteering in the schools is one of the first opportunities that moms of school-aged kids seek out, but many don’t know exactly where to start. Fortunately, opportunities to volunteer at school are everywhere. You just need to know where to look.
Join the PTA
Even if you’re not interested in being on the board or heading up any committees, the PTA is a wealth of information about the goings-on at school, including volunteer opportunities, special events, and classroom updates. Plus, membership dues are reasonable, go towards funding many school-sponsored events, and needed supplies.
Help in the Classroom
Teachers have their hands full in the classroom. Increasing class sizes accompanied by decreased funding often leads to teachers being spread too thin among the students. This is where volunteers can directly impact a student’s day. A classroom volunteer can pass out papers, sharpen pencils, help young children with their reading, and much more, depending on the teacher’s needs. This allows the teacher to focus on teaching and giving the students more individualized attention.
Check Out Special Areas
Library, music, art, gym, and technology are important classes to round out a child’s education. But like the regular classroom, special area teachers could also benefit from an extra pair of hands. Whether it’s helping a child pick out a library book or cleaning paint brushes in the art room, volunteers free the teachers from everyday tasks so they can concentrate on enriching the students’ learning experience.
It’s the busiest room in the school and the one most in need of help. Many children pass through the cafeteria every day, but it can be an overwhelming experience, especially for the younger grades. Cafeteria coordinators do an amazing job of making sure the lunch period goes smoothly, but a parent volunteer can offer another pair of eyes to monitor the room. Volunteers help children open containers, guide them through the lunch lines, monitor bathroom breaks, and even brighten the day of a child who may be having a tough time.
Occasionally, there may be special projects that the teachers or administration needs help with. Volunteers can help the office staff with extra paperwork generated by fundraisers, entering information into the computer system, doing work for special events, and other one-time tasks. Volunteering here will also give you an inside view of the day-to-day operations of the school.
If you can’t volunteer at school during the day, there may be projects that you can work on at home in your spare time. Ask your child’s teacher if there is anything that you can do to help from home. Teachers don’t always have time to collate homework packets or cut out pieces for craft projects. They wind up doing those tasks on their own time and would appreciate the extra help. Send a note to your child’s teacher to see if you could do any of those things.
Schools rely upon the volunteer efforts of the community to fill the shortfalls that come with limited funding. Volunteering is a worthwhile endeavor and can be a rewarding experience for parents looking to lend their time. Before giving your time, check with the administration or your state for laws concerning the required clearances necessary to work with children.