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Why I Volunteer in My Kid’s Classroom

volunteerPicture this scene:  It’s Back To School night at your child’s elementary school, and the dreaded parent volunteer forms come out.  This past year, as I sat in the teacher’s orientation speech, a working mom next to me whispered, “I told the teacher not to expect me to volunteer at school because my job is too demanding.”

Admittedly, this woman was much more senior and accomplished in her career than I am, but at that moment, I just felt sad for her.  We’re all busy.  I work full time, and I now have two children in elementary school with two classrooms asking for parent volunteers.  If you’re one of those parents that immediately dismisses that you won’t be able to volunteer, I want to share with you what I’ve learned as a classroom volunteer.

1.  Once your kids transition into elementary school, you don’t have that once or twice daily touch base with the teacher like you did in preschool or daycare.  My kids ride the bus, so I don’t have many opportunities to interact with the teachers on a day to day basis.  Volunteering in the classroom lets you get into the classroom to see your child in his school environment and learn about the teacher’s style and approach.

I was helping with a project one day that involved writing, and walking around the desks taught me that my child was having significantly more issues with reversals than her peers.  I later brought up my concern to her teacher and an action plan was put in place to help her overcome her challenges with reversals.  It’s not that I didn’t notice the reversals before, but seeing her peers’ work in comparison to hers was eye opening.

2.  You get on a friendly level with the teacher, which considering in public school you get one formal parent-teacher conference per school year, having a relationship with the teacher will give you even more insight and appreciation for what is going on in the classroom.

3.  You get to meet all of your child’s classmates and you can have conversations with your child about the relationships she has with those kids.  I know who the trouble maker is.  I know which kids struggle in class, and who is the class clown.  Understanding the day to day environment really helps put the daily conversations  on “how was your day” into perspective so that you can ask knowledgeable questions and have more meaningful conversations with your child.

4.  There will come a time when your child will be embarrassed by your presence at school.  I know this because I remember when I was embarrassed of my own mother being at my school.  When she took a job in the office of my high school, my first reaction was to beg her “not to tell anyone she was my mother”.  In retrospect, I realize what a jerk I was, but I was a teenager, so I didn’t realize how jerky that was at the time.  But now, with my kids being in kindergarten and third grade, it absolutely makes their day for me to come into their classroom once a month or once every other month.  They light up, give me hugs, and get so excited to show me off to their friends.  I know that will change, so I’m going to soak up their pride and appreciation as long as it lasts.

So before you just write off that volunteer form or request thinking that you’re too busy, I encourage you to find a way to make room for one hour a month, or even every other month, in your child’s classroom.  Use it as your lunch break, go into work early that day — whatever you have to do to adjust your schedule, just do it.  I encourage you to show up.  If you didn’t sign up at the beginning of the year, email your child’s teacher and let them know when you’d have availability to come in and help.  The return on this investment of time and energy is exponential, and it goes a long way to show your child how important they are to you.

 

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About Lynnette Bellin

Lynnette Bellin
Lynnette Bellin is the owner and site manager of the Reno Moms Blog. She is a married mother of a tween girl and a rambunctious little boy. Lynnette moved to Reno in 2001 after choosing to live in a place that she loved for its natural beauty. Lynnette has written four children's books, including The Kindness Ninja and a series of three books called Adeline’s Magical Moments Collection. She has been obsessed with blogging since 2002. She is also on the board of Think Kindness, a local non-profit that inspires measurable acts of kindness. Lynnette loves to experience the outdoor adventures in our area, including skiing, hiking, camping, and open water swimming. She is especially thrilled to have her kids starting to love the same hobbies, and spends a lot of time shuttling them to the pool, Lake Tahoe or the ski area depending on the season. Lynnette’s life is a blur of kid activities, mediating sibling arguments, making homemade meals, and hugs and kisses, mixed with days of working in content marketing.

4 comments

  1. I always appreciate your articles so much as a working mom, I feel like I can relate to your post so much. So here’s my question, do you do a regular weekly time, or do you do special events only, etc? I would like to work in my daughter’s classroom but I honestly wonder how in the heck will this will work into my schedule. She starts Kindergarten next year so I haven’t really got to that point yet, and for her preschool class its been easy. I go into her class room for special events. But this whole kindergarten thing for some reason seems to overwhelm me. Anyhow thanks for posting because I found myself thinking like the mother of your daughter’s classmate, but your right I will make time. Thanks for posting

    • Lynnette Bellin

      Thanks for reading! I don’t do a regular time typically. I pick something that I enjoy and that will get me interacting with the kids, simply because that is what I enjoy doing. I usually support the art program, which is a once a month activity, but sometimes just email the teacher when I have an opening in my schedule and just ask how they could use me. They love having parents come in and read or just support the regular class activities.

  2. Lynette, I agree with you 100%. It was a big transition for us to move from a preschool setting where we knew all the kids and parents to the public school where my daughter boards the bus at 8:40am and we don’t see her again until she gets off the bus at 4:10pm. Unless you can volunteer in the classroom, you may never know the kids your child plays with and who are the so called trouble makers. In our 4 years at public school, only half of my daughter’s teachers wanted help in the classroom, other than for art, class parties and auction baskets. When I was “wanted,” I was able to build a great rapport with the teacher.

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