Most parents don’t have as much time as they would like to support their child’s classroom. Even if you only have limited amounts of time to spare throughout the entire school year, you can still have a positive impact. Volunteer opportunities are only as limited as your imagination. Here are six potential ways you can help.
Organize a Used Book Drive – Ask the school to provide you with a list of all of the class parents throughout each grade. Send out a group email, requesting that each class parent participate in a used book and magazine drive by letting the parents in their respective classes know about it. Check with the librarian first to see if the library can accommodate a new supply of materials and if so, request a wish list of topics and types of books they are hoping for. Also check with your child’s teacher about books needed in the classroom. Reach out to other parents to ask for volunteers who can be at the school on drive day to catalogue the school’s new booty for dissemination. You can also organize a technology drive, requesting families to donate computers, printers and other equipment rather than tossing them when they upgrade.
Create a Community Fundraiser – Local businesses are usually eager to support school fundraising efforts, particularly if they know what the monies will be used for and also get acknowledgement for their donation. Work with your child’s teacher or principal to determine what is most needed by the school, such as new computers or sports equipment. Organize a team of parents willing to canvas the neighborhood, asking for financial or in-kind donations. Write up a fundraising letter they can use on official letterhead and make sure the contributors are acknowledged in the school newsletter and on the website.
Teach Tolerance – Families come in every stripe imaginable. Was yours forged through adoption or are you an LGBT couple or a single parent? Maybe you live in a three-generation household, are raising grandchildren or have a special needs child at home. Create a presentation for your child’s class about your unique type of family, using age-appropriate props, such as puppets or read-aloud books. Make sure to encourage the children to participate by sharing something about their own family to the class.
Celebrate Diversity – Organize a pot-luck dinner in the school’s gymnasium, with every family bringing a dish representative of their culture to share. Ask that each dish be accompanied by an index card, explaining the food’s significance or history. If music can accompany the event, create a mixed-tape of multi-ethnic tunes combined with all-American favorites, or ask that people bring CDs of music indicative of their culture.
Support the Curriculum – Connect with your child’s teacher about what is being taught this year and organize an extra-curricular activity that supports it, such as a trip to an art museum or national monument. Reach out to other parents to volunteer their time or to help create an in-class project based upon what is being learned.
Ask What Is Needed – Your child’s teacher may be hoping for an in-class volunteer one day a month, a Spanish translator who can help out another parent on open school night or a new class pet. Reach out periodically to determine how you can best serve the classroom and if necessary, be willing to connect with other parents to support the teacher’s goals.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.