For many schools, parents are an untapped resource, representing a diverse array of skill sets capable of bringing high energy and enthusiasm to the school environment. Many school administrations fall short when it comes to reaching out to pupils’ families to ask for help or support. For those able to volunteer even a small amount of time, taking the initiative and letting the school know you want to get involved can add vibrancy to the curriculum and support all of the kids to excel. Some of the expenses associated with school volunteerism may also provide a tax deduction, creating an added incentive for parents to roll up their sleeves. What do you have to offer your child’s school?

Coach a Team – From basketball to swimming, lots of schools rely on volunteer coaches or assistant coaches to help kids learn how to work as a team and acquire sports skills. If your child is on the team, that could be an added plus, providing extra time together and solidifying a shared goal.

Green Up the School – Many schools are concrete jungles, providing little or no space for greenery. Consider spearheading a relationship between the school and a local community garden, or help to create window box gardens in all of the classrooms on the school’s sunniest sides. Support gardening time, when kids can learn about composting and organic food. You can also plant a butterfly garden in the front of the school, or fold biology lessons into planting time. Reach out to local plant nurseries or seed producers for funding for your project.

Run a Flash Mob Fundraiser – Organize the kids and their parents to create and participate in a wild and wacky fundraiser that the entire community would enjoy supporting. Ideas include a flash mob featuring the latest hit song at the local mall, a kid-run car wash on the school’s block or a pets-only petting zoo in the school parking lot.

Make Math Real – Lots of kids who struggle with algebra and other types of math often complain that they won’t need it when they grow up, so why bother learning it. Whether you’re a local business owner or a Wall Street billionaire, give a presentation about math and its role in your life and success.

Be a Mentor – In order to expand their horizons and give them a taste of the real world of work, create a rotating apprenticeship program at your place of business for small groups of students to participate in each week. Enroll other parents and community leaders to do the same, striving for business diversity. Consider making some groups girls only and discuss the Ban Bossy campaign, or focus others around specific areas of interest, such as media design or fashion.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at

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