School can often become that clandestine building where kids are dropped off and picked up routinely. Not much thought is put into what happens while they are there. Stay-at-home moms are notorious for visiting the school during the day, either to volunteer or watch school programs, or even to have lunch with their children occasionally. Some working parents may be envious of the stay-at-home mom’s ability to drop in and watch her child’s excitement about learning and interaction with peers. However, just because a parent chooses to work outside of the home, it doesn’t necessarily mean volunteering at a child’s school is out of the question.
Working mom and author Samantha Ettus suggests that working parents can be involved in their child’s school and still have a full-time career. The key, Ettus says, is to be involved but not overly involved. One way to do this is to be present at the parent meetings at the beginning of the school year and pick one or two activities that you can realistically help with. This way, you know the expectations early on and can work it into your schedule. Also, the child will see that you are excited to help out and won’t feel the need to keep asking when you will be coming to school.
Mothers aren’t the only parents who are able to volunteer at school. Stay-at-home dads, as well as working dads, can be a valuable attribute in elementary schools. Author and radio host Armin Brott agrees that dads who make time to volunteer in their children’s schools are a rare commodity, so if at all possible, dads should try to make time to be present. Brott says even an hour of helping the teacher or talking to the kids can send a message to teachers, administrators and even kids that dads are just as involved as moms. To some kids whose dads may not be constant in their lives, this could be a huge benefit because it will give them the opportunity to have a positive male role model in their lives.
Volunteering is important because it shows parental support for the education system and the teachers who are here to help children succeed. Furthermore, it’s also a great self-esteem boost for kids. Parents taking time out of a busy day to visit their children at school, to see what they are working on, and to watch them engage with their peers, shows them that they are important and what they are learning in school matters. Whether a parent stays home or works a full-time career, there are ways to volunteer and be involved at school.