As a former teacher, I know first-hand how helpful it is to have parent volunteers because it wasn’t until my third year teaching that one of the moms signed up to be my room parent and come in every other week for an hour. A recent article in Slate wondered if American parents spend too much time volunteering at their kids’ schools but I don’t think there’s any teacher out there who would turn away extra help. While the article discusses schools around the world, parent involvement in classrooms in other countries, and the effect of parental volunteers on a child’s academic achievement, it also says “Volunteering in school and attending school events seems to have little effect on how much kids learn.”
So why do parents volunteer? A recent survey by WeAreTeachers and VolunteerSpot of more than 1,000 parents and educators indicated strong support for parent volunteers in the classroom due to gaps between teacher needs and how parents are currently pitching in. According to the data, parents and teachers believe in classroom volunteers but volunteering takes different forms. 73% of parents surveyed cited work conflicts as barriers to volunteering but tasks don’t always have to be done during school hours. 45% of teachers reported needing help creating newsletters and 44% would appreciate assistance preparing learning centers, jobs that can be done at home but would still make a great impact on classroom instruction.
Volunteering to help your child’s teacher or school at home, through the PTA, as a room parent, as an occasional volunteer, or even by attending and organizing events, shows your child that learning is a partnership that involves everyone. Creating such a partnership can feel daunting but it doesn’t have to. Helpful tools like VolunteerSpot make it easier to coordinate projects of all sizes or even to sign up to help.
If you’re planning to volunteer in your child’s school this year, VolunteerSpot is also offering THREE (3) grants of $1,500 each to school-parent groups (like the PTA, PTO, etc.) around the country as part of their Get Spotted Volunteering campaign. It’s super simple to enter in one of three ways:
- Take the Pledge to volunteer for your school on the VolunteerSpot site by Sunday, September 15. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific activity to sign up for yet; just make the commitment to help out with one thing this school year. (Just be sure to include your school’s name when prompted during the easy registration process and boom! You’ve got 1 entry!)
- Use VolunteerSpot’s FREE online sign up sheets by Sept. 15th, 2013* to organize the parent volunteers for any school activity: back-to-school events, classroom helpers, carnivals, book fairs, hospitality teams & potlucks, concessions – any activity that involves multiple volunteers will be easier to manage with online sign ups and scheduling.
- Hey teachers! VolunteerSpot has a special contest just for you. So be sure to check out the Teachers Win with VolunteerSpot sweeps here too.
If you’re not the person who gets involved in organizing activities for your school, but you know who is, send them this link— http://bit.ly/TSMVolSpot. That way, even if you don’t need to organize an activity with VolunteerSpot right now, you can still help someone else out while helping your school win.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to start volunteering at your child’s school, this exclusive infograph indicates how parents typically help and what’s most useful to teachers. It also shows how parents and teachers can better work together and use technology to boost participation, involve more working parents, and increase parent engagement in support of student success. Click on the infograph for it to open in a new window so you can view it full size.
I was compensated for my time in writing about VolunteerSpot and sharing my personal experience as a classroom teacher and parent volunteer. All opinions are my own.