You don’t have to be president. But being part of a PTA helps you be aware of the issues at your school and allows you to be a part of the problem-solving process. You may also get a chance to help plan and execute some large school-wide events like carnivals, talent shows, teacher appreciation gifts, or fundraisers. Being a member of the PTA generally requires one or two meetings a month and then whatever additional responsibilities for which you volunteer.
2. Volunteer in the Classroom:
Let your teacher know at the beginning of the year that you would love to come into the classroom to help with the students. You may be able to help in the following ways:
- Help guiding small reading or math groups.
- Being a guest reader during story time.
- Tutoring students one-on-one or in small groups in the hallway.
- Administer simple tests or assess student’s academic levels.
- Help out with a classroom craft.
- Signing up to help plan a classroom party and be there to manage the activities.
Volunteering in the classroom may only happen once or twice or you might consider setting up a consistent schedule with your teacher (I can come in every Monday from 1-3). Let your teacher know what you feel comfortable with and what your skills are and together you can come up with a plan you both feel comfortable with.
3. Communicate Positively with Your Teacher: Whether you choose to volunteer or not, always communicate with your child’s teacher in the most positive way possible. When your child comes home beaming because of something their teacher said or did, send them a quick email to let them know how meaningful it was. Commend your teacher on the things you feel they are doing well or on projects they have accomplished. If there is a question or problem in the classroom, always make sure to speak politely, calmly, and positively as you resolve the issue. Teaching is an extremely emotionally difficult job and your teacher needs all the emotional support and cheering they can get.
4. Volunteer Out of the Classroom:
If you don’t feel comfortable working with students, then completing jobs for your teacher is the next best thing. Every teacher appreciates help preparing and creating so that they have more time to spend with the children. You can help your teacher outside the classroom by:
- Making copies
- Pre-cutting projects and crafts
- Binding books
- Laminating supplies
- Sorting work into mailboxes or folders
If you arrange to come in early, late, during lunch or recess your teacher (or school staff member) will be more than happy to show you how to run the machines and where to find supplies.
5. Volunteer in the Office:
You can help out the entire school by volunteering through your school’s office. You could:
- Make copies, laminate, cut, or bind for any teacher that needs help
- Delivering things from the office to teachers
- Volunteer as a cross-walk guard, recess guard, or lunch server.
- Volunteer to help shelve books at the school library.
Although you won’t be aiding your child’s teacher personally, you will be supporting the school-wide structure and helping every child in the school have a better educational experience and sending those important messages to your child and the school.
6. Volunteer from Home:
Let your teacher know that you are available to complete projects from home. Sometimes teachers need:
- A bunch of pencils sharpened
- A project cut up, sorted, or labeled
- Donated supplies such as markers, paper, or pencils
- Items for class parties like a treat, an activity, or a craft
Your teacher can send home projects in your child’s backpack with instructions so you can complete the tasks at home on your own time. Your teacher may also send out emails or handouts that indicate that they have specific needs. Then you can drop the completed project or items off at the office or send them in your child's backpack. You don’t always have to be at the school to be a great help.
7. Watch Other Moms’ Kids:
If you can't get to the school for some reason, volunteer to watch someone else's children so they can volunteer. You could also consider setting up a rotation system so that someone watches your kids while you volunteer and then vice versa. If you just feel like you can’t get to the school you can let an interested friend know you’d be willing to watch their kids while they go to help out at the school.
8. Vote and Donate for School Causes:
Be aware of the politics in your community and vote in all ways possible to support the school system. Donate to your school’s fundraising efforts, whether that means you buy a few dozen doughnuts at the school bake-sale or just donate straight up cash when they are trying to build a new play-ground.
Great schools depend on parents who support the classrooms in so many ways. Help your child’s school become even better with a gift of your time and effort. You will enjoy the experience more than you might expect and your child will appreciate your interest in their life at school.