As a parent and special educator I’ve noticed that when parents are actively involved in their child’s learning community, grades tend to go up, truancy goes down and positive behavior increases.
Before beginning my full-time teaching career I was the parent that could be seen volunteering at my kid’s school several times a week. I would hang posters in the hallway, create snazzy bulletin boards and spend Friday afternoons as the school librarian.
When I became a full-time working parent my involvement at my child’s school changed.
Teachers and staff members now knew my name before seeing my face. You’d no longer see me in the hall, but I remained committed to making my presence felt in a positive and meaningful way.
My teaching schedule requires creativity in how I support my children’s classrooms and schools. Below are 9 tips I’ve picked up along the way as both a mother and a teacher.
9 Creative Ways You Can Support Your Child’s School (Without Ever Stepping into the Classroom)
1. Volunteer to Complete At-Home Tasks
How you can help: Most teachers have to-do lists that are a mile long. Reach out to your child’s teachers to request a task that you can complete and send back (i.e. labeling files/folders, cutting, pasting). You’ll save them valuable planning time all while allowing your child to be the very useful engine that transports the tasks from home to school.
2. Fulfill a Wish(list)
How you can help: Does your teacher or school have a Donors Choose project that needs sponsoring, audiobooks that need purchasing or a class supply of Kleenex that is running low? Every teacher has a wish list.
You can be the Fairy Classroom Parent that makes a teacher’s wish come true.
3. Be the Point of Contact (P.O.C.)
How you can help: Volunteer to be the point person for general class information. With class sizes trending upward around the country, many teachers are supporting classes of 22 to 30 students. As the P.O.C. you’d have assignments, spelling lists and important dates on hand to communicate to parents in the event that certain information has been lost or forgotten.
4. Tutor on the Weekends
How you can help: Many schools are adding Saturday morning enrichment sessions to their school calendars. Local colleges and community outreach organizations usually staff these events.
For an hour or two over the weekend you can tutor students in subjects that range from reading to math. A background check is required to participate.
If your school doesn’t have weekend enrichment sessions, offer to start one.
5. Help Secure Funding
How you can help: At different times throughout the year educational grants are offered through various corporations. These funds are often set up to facilitate new gym equipment, increase book offerings and to provide innovative field trip opportunities. Contact your school’s administration to see if they need grant- or letter-writing help.
6. Lend Your Talents
How you can help: Can you sew costumes for the 5th grade play, paint murals in the gym on a Sunday afternoon or tie ribbons to the fence for Red Ribbon Week? Reach out to the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) or your classroom teacher to make them aware of your interests and talents. Many school spirit-related tasks can be completed outside of school (and work) hours.
7. Host a Club
How you can help: The list of potential clubs is endless. If your work schedule allows for afterschool activities, consider sponsoring the Walking Fitness Club, Garden and Shrub Club or Chess Club. Costs generally consist of your time and commitment. Check with your school administration to determine the regulations and parameters.
8. Look for Retail Rewards
How you can help: Link your local grocery store loyalty rewards card to your school. Patronize the local establishments that sponsor your school. Send your child to school with Box Tops for Education clipped from any corresponding items you purchase. Save the soda tops and soup labels too! Ask your PTO president or fundraising chairperson to see if these programs are available in your area.
9. Love a Teacher
How you can help: While actual love isn’t required, appreciation and good ole fashioned R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is always nice. Do your part to support your child’s teacher by keeping the lines of communication open. Try to be available for phone calls, emails and parent-teacher conferences.
Your kid’s teacher doesn’t need another mug. But a bag of freshly ground coffee, a microwavable bowl to warm soup in and gift cards to the local craft store has been known to bring some of us to tears.
However you choose to support your children’s school and classroom, know that your support is immensely appreciated! Volunteers contribute individual pieces that bolster the school community as a whole.