(This is the second blog post on becoming a school volunteer. Click here to see the first in this series.) 

So you’ve made the decision to get involved at your child’s school… but how do you start? Let’s face it, unless you’re Betty Crocker, baking, wrapping, and selling 500 cookies can make even the most powerful multi-tasking moms feel like a quivering mold of fruit cocktail Jell-o. And let’s get real, nobody wants to spend their free, unpaid time feeling like a stressed-out disaster of a parent.

Fear not! If visions of “Happy Days” and “Mad Men” cause your blood-pressure to rise… remember, the PTA moms of the past are soooo last century. It wasn’t always better in “the good old days”. The “Beav” didn’t have two dads (now wouldn’t that be fab!), moms didn’t have Facebook to post embarrassing anecdotes of their kids, and nobody had ever heard of sexting!

Nowadays, you don’t have to be a Martha Stewart clone, a professional event planner, or even a stay-at-home parent to make a big impact at your school. Take stock of your interests and talents, whatever they may be, and you may be surprised at what a great resource you can be.

Below are some ideas to get you started:

If you like to read and write…

  • read books to kids or offer to listen to them read to you
  • assist in the library or classroom book center
  • write articles for the parent newsletter
  • help staff write grant proposals or fundraising letters

If you like computers…

  • offer to help out in the computer lab
  • assist staff in building the school web site
  • work at your school’s parent center to help other parents set up email accounts, and access Internet resources

 If you speak more than one language…

  • translate school fliers, and other documents into English 
  • assist communication between families, students and school staff by offering interpretation services either during the school day or at family workshops or meetings

If you like to socialize…

  • help organize fundraisers, catering, bake sales, student assemblies etc.
  • chaperone dances, school outings, or other student activities
  • talk with prospective parents at school tours and enrollment events, become a school ambassador (see Parents for Public Schools for more info.)
  • start (or assist) a school club after school or at lunch: chess, knitting, etc.

If you like sports...

  • assist coaches or gym teachers with sports activities
  • serve as a playground monitor, during morning recess or lunch
  • sell concessions at games to raise money for the team

If you are creative…

  • lead arts, crafts, design projects with a classroom
  • work with students to design and paint a mural
  • design fliers for events or assist with yearbook layout
  • plant a garden

If you are career-oriented…

  • help out in the main office, copying papers or answering the phones
  • talk to students about your career and explain ways that they can gain experience in your field
  • work with staff to host a field trip to your place of work
  • serve as a professional judge for a school contest or project presentation

    And, yes… if you really want to… and are good at it… you can also bake cookies.

    Next up, things to consider when signing up to volunteer.

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    About alimcollins

    Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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    parent involvement, Parenting

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