I’m not a crunchy granola mom, I not a homeschooling mom, and I’m not a Martha Stewart mom. I let my kids eat junk food and real sugar, I let them wear mismatched outfits, and occasionally they go to bed without brushing their teeth. But one thing I do well, at least this year. I volunteer at my kids’ school.
Having been the Sunday School teacher for each of my kids’ classes on many, many occasions, I know better than to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms. But there are a ton of other ways to help out at the school. We do Breakfast Club twice each week, and I help out with Parent Council. This year that means co-organizing the annual Fun Fair. I’ll let you know in June if I’ve survived.
But why bother?
Why step in and spend hours of my free time feeding other people’s kids and raising money for the school?
It teaches my own kids about service to others. My kids volunteer right along with me. They set up the tables and chairs for Breakfast Club. They put out the food for breakfast. They even help prep the munchies for the Snack Program. And most importantly, they give up an extra 15 minutes of sleep twice a week so that we can get to school early for Breakfast Club. They’re learning to serve others even when it comes at a cost to them.
It allows me to get to know my kids’ teachers. My kids are pretty good kids, but being able to touch base with their teachers is a great thing. As my boys get older, they don’t necessarily tell me as much about their day as they used to. When a teacher pops into the school kitchen in the morning to ask if my son had told me he got the highest score on his last math test, it makes the morning rush worth it. Or when a child is having difficulty agreeing with the intent of an assignment, I’m there to back up the teacher.
I get to see my kids hanging out with their friends. In a world largely dominated by online interaction and in a small town that too spread out for kids to pop over to one another’s houses, one great way to get to know my kids’ friends is to spy on them at school. Okay, I’m not really spying. Just kind of watching while pouring milk or peeking into the classroom while walking down the hall. I wouldn’t get the chance to do that if I wasn’t already in the school for other reasons.
I get to interact with other parents. I’m an introvert. I need an excuse to interact with people outside of my usual circles. By volunteering at the school, I get to work with a variety of people that I may not normally choose to work with. I get to hear other people’s experiences with teachers and classes, and I leave with a broader understanding of what’s going on in the school as a whole, not just in my own kids’ classrooms.
It helps my kids do better at school. I’m not sure how this one works, exactly. Maybe it’s a combination of being in touch with teachers, or maybe it even feeds into the self-confidence of my kids. But for whatever reason, my kids are doing better at school than they’ve ever done before. For one or two of my kids, that’s not too big of a deal. Learning comes easily to them. But for the kid that has a harder time learning in a traditional setting, this is HUGE. And if there were no other benefits to volunteering, this reason right here would be more than enough.
It raises funds that will be put to use for my children. Many times, Parent Council is synonymous with fundraising. But that’s okay because at our school, fundraising has been used to provide Smart Boards and projectors in every classroom, computers, library resources, funding for class trips, sports banquets, uniforms, and more. My kids are benefiting from the money we raise in direct and indirect ways.
Volunteering at a school isn’t for everyone, and work schedules, younger children and other life responsibilities can take priority. But then again, there are a lot more ways to volunteer than you may think. Helping in a classroom or with the lunch program is great, but there are so many other ways to help as well, even from home. There’s lots to do, from building games for a Fun Fair to donating supplies to making phone calls or sending emails to sitting on Parent Council and helping with decision-making.
After all, you know what they say … it takes a village!