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Busy Parent's Guide to Volunteering at School

Just For Fun Parenting

Whew - school is ramping up! Along with the thought of possibly finding a free moment to yourself, with the kids back in session (there’s hope!), along come the volunteer commitment requests.

Can you help with reading circles?
Would you coordinate the soccer team snacks?
Will you pitch-in at the Book Fair fundraiser?

It can all seem very overwhelming, but of course you want to pitch in! As a a busy parent, you know the benefits of lending a hand as a volunteer. Volunteering at school helps teachers juggle tight budgets and makes a positive impact on the learning environment for all the kids. Most kids love it when their own parents help out at school, and bonus - making time to pitch-in shows your kids that you value their education. 

When you're busy though, every minute counts. (Sometimes you wish you had a ‘volunteer’ to help with dinner, right?). Matching your volunteer gig to your personal interests and availability (and patience levels) will keep the experience fun for everyone.
Super busy?
Consider volunteer jobs that can be done from anywhere, completed in clear time-windows, or can be bundled with family time.

  • Avoid the loosey-goosey volunteer job and choose an in-and-out gig that's guaranteed to start and end on time. Look for opportunities to be the classroom mystery reader, science helper or cafeteria monitor. Be sure to budget the extra time needed for parking and checking into the office so that you’re not scrambling to get in or out of there.
  • Really busy parents make great Room Parents - you're organized, you prioritize and you can delegate! Help the teacher behind-the-scenes and volunteer to coordinate other class parents for events and classroom support. Pro Tip: SignUp.com makes it easy to coordinate parents from anywhere with free SignUps and volunteer calendars. Check out this simple Room Parent Checklist to capture the teacher's needs for the year.

SignUp.com Room Parent Checklist

  • Weekend volunteer gigs can be especially fun when combined with family time. Volunteer together to weed the school garden, paint the lockers, or make signs and decorations for the Fall Carnival


Have special skills or hobbies?

  • Do you love to sing, paint, play an instrument, write computer code, garden? Ask the teacher about an appropriate time to showcase your talent with the class.
  • Graphically savvy? Join the yearbook or website committee and help capture and publish this year’s memories!
  • Love to cook (or are a grocery store regular)? Teacher Hospitality team is for you - sign up to send treats to the break room.

Can’t get enough time with kids?

  • A shift helping supervise recess, the lunch room or pick-up and drop off are for you. Bonus - when parents staff these jobs, teachers get an extra break and can catch up on their lesson planning and parent communication.
  • Join the party and volunteer to help with seasonal celebrations as a game leader, craft station helper or party supervisor.

Prefer a tamer experience?

  • Consider a regular shift helping the school office, the library or the art room.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer from home - assembling lesson materials, managing product fundraiser orders, or updating the class website.

Have little kids?

  • Volunteer to organize the classroom snack schedule or mystery readers. Both can be planned in a snap with SignUp.com. Quickly set up the schedule of when you want help and class parents will sign up with a few clicks on their smartphones. Automated reminders and swapping mean busy parents will keep their commitments.
  • Sign up to be the craft parent - you’ll be thanked two times over for coming up with great ideas AND for supplying the craft supplies. No longer do those super cute ideas stay locked away in a Pinterest board - bring them to life!

No time means...no time.

  • We've all been there - some years the family schedule is much fuller than others.
  • Consider pitching in with your wallet - purchase supplies for the classroom and participate in school fundraisers.
  • Choose a volunteer shift at an event you will be going to with your family - selling concessions at the Holiday Play or staffing the cake walk at the Fall Carnival.
  • Say “No”. It’s okay, really. There will be plenty of opportunities to pitch-in next year.

Help make the school year a success with a volunteer commitment that meets your needs - more time, less time or no time - we’re all busy parents!

Tags: back to school classroom volunteer room parents


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