You do not have to convince me how busy you are. I can relate. Between a full workload, graduate school, two children, a husband and some type of commitment to fitness, it is difficult to be as involved as I would like in my children’s education.
Now trust and believe I’m there at every parent-teacher conference, we sit down nightly to go over homework, and we read at least one book at bedtime. But sometimes that doesn’t seem like enough. So what is an overworked mama to do?
1) Chaperone field trips. I might be able to volunteer to be the room mom, volunteering in the classroom every day, but I am able to clear my schedule for a couple hours to chaperone the class trip to the zoo or to a local farm. I get to see my daughter interact with her classmates and I get some facetime with her teacher. It’s a win-win.
Time invested: Four hours a month (driving to the school, participating in the field trip, and then driving home)
2) Participate in a passive fundraising program like Box Tops or Campbell’s Labels for Education. It doesn’t take much to buy the participating products, clip the coupons on the packages and bring them to the school. If you’re able, you can serve as the school’s coordinator to brainstorm ideas to get more parents to participate.
Time invested: Four hours a month (Collecting the coupons, counting and tallying them, brainstorming ideas for collection at school)
3) Offer to put up bulletin boards. Ask your child’s teacher if they need any help changing the classroom decorations from season to season. Help them swap out pumpkins for snowflakes or raindrops for sunbeams and you’ll get an opportunity to get on the teacher’s good side.
Time invested: One hour a month (May depend on how often the teacher likes to switch out decorations)
4) Volunteer to bring in treats and paper supplies. If your child’s school is anything like mine, they are always celebrating something—the 100th day of school, birthdays, holidays, etc. The cake or goodies need to come from somewhere, right? If you’re not able to whip up some baked goods from scratch, no one will mind if you swing by the store on your way to school—they may even thank you since they can see exactly what’s in the ingredient list, due to heightened food allergy prevalence.
Time invested: One to three hours a month (Depends on whether you’re digging out the apron or the debit card for some store-bought treats)
5) Serve on a committee or the PTA. If you have a little more time to spare, the monthly parent meetings are a good way to interact with the other parents and administration and get your face out there as someone who truly cares about their child’s education. One word of caution: Don’t feel like you have to say yes to everything you’re asked to do. If you know you can only give one hour, then only promise one hour. No need in overloading yourself and having to back out at the last minute.
Time invested: Two hours per month
Have you ever felt like you’re just too busy to volunteer in your kid’s school? What’s your favorite way to get involved?