You’ve probably heard the cliché “It takes a village…” when it comes to raising children. I would dare to say that many of you have carefully cultivated your village – creating carpools; watching out for your friends’ kids, and even correcting their behavior at events or when they visit your home; cheerleading their efforts; and even offering fellow parents a helping hand or advice during a difficult time.
But did you realize that building and maintaining a strong, nurturing, and positive school community requires that same level of commitment and involvement?
While the dedicated teachers and administrators at your child’s school provide an enriching learning environment, there is much more to creating a school environment that engages children than what goes on in the classroom. To truly foster a school atmosphere that creates important emotional connections, invigorates students and staff, and makes them excited to come to school every day, the Parent-Teacher organization needs all families to get involved.
If you are a parent or guardian with children in school, you have an obligation to the school and to your child to volunteer.
Now, I know you’re about to say…”But I pay tuition or I work full-time and I have kids at two schools or it’s always the same people who run everything or I don’t know anyone in the PTA or someone else will do it…”
Here are Five Reasons to Put Down Your Excuses and Pick Up a Volunteer Form:
1. Children with involved parents perform better in school.
Thirty years of research shows that when parents volunteer at their kids’ school, those kids earn better grades, behave better in class, show improved attitudes toward school, and have better social skills. And honestly, it gives you a chance to know their teachers better and creates more opportunities for communication.
2. Every contribution counts –– no matter how small.
Every volunteer minute counts. So even if you think you can’t make a difference with the small amount of time you have to offer, trust me…you will! A phone call, stuffing envelopes, running copies, wrangling teen volunteers at an event…It all adds up to making a positive impact on your school.
3. You get to influence a larger community.
Do you look around and see the same 10 people planning and executing every event at your kids’ school? Have you ever felt left out? You don’t have to feel that way. Those people stepped up because no one else did. You can too, and your school needs you to! Students deserve to be a part of a thriving community of engaged adults who care about them — all of them — and want to see their community grow and blossom. Now’s your chance!
4. You will treasure the memories and so will your child.
As your child matures, they will want you at school less and less. There are still opportunities to contribute in middle and high school, but the needs there are fewer and your kids are more likely to pretend they don’t see you and beg you not to volunteer when they reach the upper grades. Take advantage of the opportunity now when they and their friends will gladly run up and hug you and thank you for being there and helping at their school.
5. Volunteering makes you feel good.
While the research remains vague as to why people who volunteer feel happier, the evidence shows that those who give of their time and talents do, in fact, feel happier. Not only do people who volunteer have higher levels of happiness and self-esteem, researchers at the University of Exeter who examined 40 studies over the course of 20 years found that volunteers have a 22% lower mortality rate than non-volunteers.
Of course, as a mom who has served as PTA President at a public elementary school in Atlanta and who now volunteers with the Home & School Association at a private school here in Chattanooga, I can tell you exactly why volunteering makes you feel good. Nothing is as good for the heart and soul has seeing the smiling faces of kids enjoying an event you helped organize at their school or hearing a beleaguered teacher say thank you and hug your neck when you can take a chore off her plate or give her a heartfelt gift from her class.