Volunteering in Your Child’s School: The Complete Guide

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There are endless opportunities for volunteering in your child’s school if you are willing to help.  Most principals and teachers would be infinitely grateful to have a parent that was genuinely interested in assisting!  

The best part is that there are so many different ways that you can help!  However, many times we don’t even know where to begin.   

So, I want to share some simple tips including six ways to volunteer at school, five ways to volunteer in the classroom, four ways to help your child’s teacher even if you work full-time during the day, and three reasons why volunteering in your child’s school matters.

Volunteering at Your Child’s School

1.  Help with Fundraising Efforts

This includes anything from choosing which items to have the students sell, what companies to work with, or writing letters asking for donations.

You might be the one who coordinates the “Box Tops for Education” campaign at your child’s school.  You could also be the person in charge of sorting and distributing the pizza kits each child sold during the fundraiser time period.

It’s even possible that you will discover a totally new fundraising initiative!

Just remember that no matter which role you assume, from fundraising coordinator to assistant helper, the fact the you are volunteering in your child’s school is greatly appreciated.

2.  Take a Leadership Role in PTO or PTA

Being an officer in the school PTO or PTA is one of the best ways to volunteer at school.  If you don’t feel comfortable as one of the leaders, you can certainly become an active participant.

A thriving parent association with lots of parent involvement typically represents a school that is flourishing.  

There are a variety of ways that you could become involved.  Simply ask the front office manager, secretary, or principal whom to contact about the school’s parent association.  Then find out how you can be of service to the organization and school!

3.  Become a Substitute Teacher

This is one area that is often overlooked when it comes to helping a school.  Schools need dependable, hard-working substitutes to fill in for teachers when they are sick or have to be out.

When I was teaching, I can remember going to school sick as a dog because it was just so hard to find a substitute that I knew would be able to “hold down the fort” while I was gone.

Teachers pour their heart and soul into their jobs, and it’s hard to just hand over your students to another person.  So, having competent substitutes is essential to a strong school.

4.  Assist During Picture Day or Field Day

There are certain days during the school year that require as many hands as possible to help.  Field day is the number one “help wanted” day with picture day coming in a close second.

Whoever is in charge of field day typically has stations set up for all of the different classes and grades.  So, if there is someone manning the stations, or at the very least overseeing a few stations in the event of an issue, everything goes a bit more smoothly.  

Be willing to do anything necessary including bringing water to teachers or students, setting out the materials needed for each station, or delivering popsicles to each classroom.  

During picture day, multiple volunteers are needed to corral all of the preschoolers and kindergarteners waiting to have their pictures taken.  In all honesty, the older kids are sometimes more difficult to keep on task than the little kiddos.

But, since there are multiple picture days throughout the school year, it’s helpful to have multiple volunteers ready to assist as needed.

5. Help the Librarian with the Book Fair

The book fair is always an exciting time for the kids at school. However, this is typically spearheaded by the librarian.

In many cases, the librarian is dependent on individuals volunteering in your child’s school to help kids make selections and run the cash register for check out because she still has classes.

See if you can help by covering the book fair area while she completes her regular classes. I promise, she will be eternally grateful for your help!

6. Consider Volunteering in Your Child’s School as a Testing Proctor

Don’t be afraid of the fancy name “testing proctor.” It simply means someone who sits in the classroom during standardized testing to make sure that everything is going smoothly and everyone is following the rules.

It is a requirement by the Department of Education that every testing environment have at least two proctors. The teacher counts as one and then the other one has to be a volunteer of some sort.

As a teacher, I always appreciated having another set of eyes to monitor the classroom situation during testing. It was extremely helpful to me!

Ways to Volunteer in the Classroom

In a perfect world, every teacher would have an aide that could help daily.  But, since we don’t live in a perfect world, here are 5 ways to volunteer in the classroom.

1. Make Copies

This may seem like a super-boring task, but this is where many teachers spend a lot of time.  Teachers usually end up coming to school early or staying late to make copies of the pages that their students will need for class because there are typically only a couple of copy machines for all of the teachers in the school to share.

You could ask the teacher to show you how to operate the copy machine to ensure that you are using it properly.  Then you could stop by the classroom any time you had a free minute and make copies.  

To make this process as seamless as possible, you and your child’s teacher could have a designated spot for the materials she needed copied.  This way you wouldn’t disrupt the learning and activities when you stopped by to volunteer in the classroom. 

2. Cut Out Flashcards or Other Materials

When I was still in the classroom, there were so many times that I had to skip the most interesting lessons because I just didn’t have the time to prepare all of the materials.  With a classroom full of students who had a variety of learning styles and abilities, there simply weren’t enough hours in a day.

Because I didn’t have a dedicated teacher’s aide to help with some of the daily tasks, I constantly enlisted the help of my kids and my husband to help me stay on top of all the projects and activities for my students.  

So, offering to cut out learning activity materials or game pieces would be a perfect opportunity for you to volunteer in the classroom, and be a huge help to your child’s teacher.  (And, her family will be SO thankful!  )

3. File Papers

This is another way you could be extremely helpful to your child’s teacher, but with one caveat.  

If the teacher is going to trust you to file papers, you must be trustworthy.  (In other words, you can’t be snooping around in students’ files to see how they scored on the most recent test.)

Just like the system with copying, have a space set up with all of the students’ folders and all of the papers that need to be filed.  Then as the teacher grades or checks papers, she can add them to the stack for you to file.

4. Help with Book Orders

Book orders are a wonderful way for classroom teachers to earn free books for the classroom library.  However, separating all of the order sheets, collecting the money, filling out the forms, and ordering online is quite time-consuming.

So, this would be a great way for you to volunteer in the classroom.  You could be in charge of separating the order forms, deciding on the last day to order, and sending home any notes or letters associated with the book orders.

5. Chaperone a Class Field Trip

While field trips are not as prevalent as they used to be, chaperones are still needed when field trips are taken.  Navigating 30 kids to the destination, feeding them along the way, and getting them all back in one piece is utterly exhausting and certainly not a task to be taken lightly.

So, for teachers to have volunteers to chaperone field trips is a great help.  Consider offering to be another set of hands for tying shoes and opening lunches on your child’s next field trip.

Ways to Help When You Work Full-Time

If you work full time during the day and cannot be at school during school hours, there are ways that you can help your child’s teacher, too. You just have to be willing to think outside the box a little bit!

Here are 5 ways that parents who work full-time during the day can still help their child’s teacher or school.

1. Offer to Type Letters for Your Child’s Teacher or School

There are always letters and notices that need to be typed and copied.

So, consider offering to draft field trip letters, book order notifications, or school-wide upcoming activity calendars. These letters can be written at home and then emailed to the school secretary or your child’s teacher.

This gives you the flexibility needed to complete these at your discretion. So, if drafting letters at 5 am or 11:30 pm works for your schedule, do it!

2. Volunteer to Cut Flashcards or Other Laminated Pieces.

Just like I mentioned before, there are plenty of opportunities for you to cut out laminated flashcards or other materials for learning.

If you can’t come into the classroom to do the cutting, ask your child’s teacher to send home the items that she would like cut with specific instructions about when she needs the items back. Then, when they are done, send them back to school in your child’s backpack.

3. Ask Local Businesses for Donations

Most schools are seriously underfunded, and that means that the majority of the funding needed to operate each classroom comes directly from the teacher’s pocket.

One way that you could help would be to write a personalized letter to local businesses requesting supplies or money for your child’s classroom. December is always a wonderful time to ask businesses for donations because they are looking to give!

4. Use Your Skill Set

We all have unique gifts and talents. So why not use those talents to help your child’s school?

If you are an artist by trade, see if you can paint the backdrops for the upcoming Christmas performance.

Are you an Environmental Health Specialist? Volunteer to bring in different soils for the students to look at and talk about how to stay safe around animals.

Are you a hair dresser or a nail tech? Set up a field trip to your salon where students can see what you do.

Everyone has a unique set of skills that could be used to create an amazing learning environment! Think about what you might be able to do to help your child’s teacher or school whether you ever step foot into the school during normal operating hours or not.

Benefits of Parent Volunteers in the Classroom

There is so much research to support the value of parent involvement in the classroom. This article even points out the link between parent involvement and higher test scores! (Read the full article here.)

But, there are lasting benefits that have positive effects on your child as a person.

1.  Your child sees that you value helping others through volunteer work.

We should never underestimate the value of setting the right example before our kids. Volunteering in your child’s school is the perfect opportunity for your child to see you putting the needs of others first.

2. Your child understands that you value education.

If your child sees you helping at school, he quickly understands how valuable school much be. You are busy and have other things to do with your time, but you are making a choice to be at his school helping his teacher or other teachers.

3. You are opening the door for deep conversations.

Having respect for others, putting the needs of others before your own needs, and valuing education are three essential lessons that every parent wants there child to embrace.

Seeing you live out these truths is only part of the equation. Actually taking the time to talk with your kids about why you are volunteering is the rest of the equation.

Use the fact that you are volunteering at your child’s school as a springboard to talk about other tough questions your kids ask. Opening this dialogue early is key to helping them understand why you do what you do, and why they need to do the same.

Volunteering in Your Child's School is so important.  Whether you are volunteering in elementary school, in the classroom, or working on things at home, there are so many benefits to parent involvement.

Volunteering in your child’s school is an awesome opportunity! There are so many ways that you can assist those who are teaching your child.

And, let’s face it.  Your child’s teacher loves your kiddo almost as much as you do, but it’s virtually impossible for her to do all of the things she needs to do each day. So, take the time to show her how much you appreciate her dedication by volunteering your time. You will be so glad you did.