The start of school means back-to-school for parents too. Beyond helping your children with homework and assignments, cash-strapped schools need parents to pitch in and help in many ways - from participating in fundraisers, to helping in the classroom, to covering support roles in the library and cafeteria that used to be staffed by employees. Parental involvement builds great schools. According to recent research cited by the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), parental engagement in a child’s education increases student achievement, improves attendance and reduces the dropout rate. When you're asked to help this year, please do - it's easy!
Six stress-free ways to pitch in that make a difference
1. Volunteer to do something that fits into your schedule. For example, parents who work—or those with young kids— might choose to help once a term by chaperoning a field trip or helping with a field day or a holiday performance. Parents with more flexible schedules are needed as classroom assistants and cafeteria and library helpers.
2. Share your skills. Do you have a special hobby or expertise, such as art, music, woodworking, computers or gardening? Many of these “extras” are the first things to go in a budget crisis, and community members can bridge gaps and help inspire kids’ creativity.
3. Support school fundraisers. Set a budget for participating in school fundraisers and choose the ones that are most meaningful and fun for your family (e.g. product sales, school carnival and book fair, walkathon, etc.) If writing checks isn't in your budget this year, consider contributing your time as a volunteer on the planning committee or on the day of school events.
4. Save time withVolunteerSpot.com. Skip “Reply-All” e-mail chains and Clipboards this year; this free website makes it easy for anyone to coordinate parent volunteers with simple online sign-up sheets. The parent leader or teacher sets the schedule of needs and invites parents to sign up with a link. Parents click to choose when and how to help— even from their smartphones. The site keeps everything up-to-date in real time, and sends automated confirmation and reminder messages to help parents keep their commitments. You can use it to organize classroom readers and parties, recess and library volunteers, snack schedules and fundraising events like school carnivals. (It’s great for teams and Scouts, too.)
5. Got a little extra time? Step up and be the Room Mom or Room Dad. These special parents help coordinate parent volunteers and plan celebrations in their children’s elementary school classrooms.
6. Buy products that benefit your child’s school. Save education-incentive box tops and labels from products to give to your school. Cut coupons from office supply stores to share with teachers so they can reduce their out-of-pocket expenses on school supplies.