In a recent conversation with a good friend who is an elementary school principal, I asked her advice on how to help my children have a productive school year. Along with the normal recommendations such as staying on top of homework and setting guidelines and goals up front, she stressed the importance of parents volunteering at the student's school.
Many of us are stretched very thin these days, and making time for volunteer work doesn't always fit easily into our schedules. But this is one "to do" list item that should be moved to the top of the list - both for our kids' benefit and our own.
The following are some reasons why I think volunteering at school is one of the best ways to spend my time:
- It sends the message to my sons that nothing, even work, is more important to me than their education and their overall well being.
- It enables me to have regular communication with my sons' teachers and the staff at the school. Now that my sons are older and classroom volunteers are no longer used, I volunteer as the school webmaster. I have done this since my eldest son was in second grade. Through the years, serving in this position has given me open door access to the school principal as well as strong relationships with every teacher in the school.
- Working in the classroom shows me exactly what my children are learning in school. Moms out these may recognize the common response "Nothing" that usually comes to the maternal question, "What did you learn in school today?" Working in the classroom gave me evidence to the contrary!
- Volunteering at school allows me to observe and form educated opinions about my children's peers. Do I really want him hanging out with the class cut up or dating the one who dresses like a pop star? Seeing kids in their natural habitats at school can shine a lot of light on their behavior.
- It's fun! Over the years, I've made playdough, helped with fingerpainting, chaperoned whale watching trips, assisted with college recruitment efforts, served pizza, and celebrated parties with a potpourri of cupcake decorations! Who wouldn't rather take a break from working and go hang out with their kids for an hour or two every other week?
On the Bookshelf:
The Educated Child: A Parents Guide From Preschool Through Eighth Grade