Bonding With Kids By Serving as a School Volunteer

Why schools and daycare centers encourage parent involvement

woman and girl reading at library
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Schools, daycares and youth organizations all desperately plead for parents to get involved, making it important for parents to volunteer at their child's school or daycare when possible. Parent involvement is said to help enhance academics, activities, enrichment and quality of care.

Parents are a kid's first and most important teacher, and parent involvement is closely linked to a rise in student self-confidence.

Use these tips if you're unsure about how to start volunteering.

Familiarize Yourself With Your Child's School

Before you begin volunteering, make an effort to learn more about your child's school or daycare program. Ask the teacher or caregiver about the curriculum and expectations, so you can complement themes taught during the day with lessons you teach at home.

If speaking with your child's teacher at the end of the day isn't helpful, try to visit class during the middle of the day, so you can observe teaching styles and learning approaches. Watch and see how your own child interacts with others. You might be surprised to learn about your child's personality when in social settings and away from home. Use your observations to determine ways to build strength and character.

Volunteer to Help

Teachers of small children often need volunteers for reading groups, handwriting practice and math drills.

Preschools often need volunteers when children go on special outings or partake in enrichment activities such as cooking or crafts. 

Determine what is required from your kid's school or care setting to volunteer, and take the time to do it. Many schools, daycares and organizations are now requiring criminal background checks or additional paperwork if you will be volunteering with kids other than your own.

Keep in mind that these policies are for the well-being and safety of all children, and parents should support these extra security measures.

Attend School Events

Go to school performances and participate in open-houses, parent nights and related activities. Teachers and care providers complain that parents say they want to know what is going on in their kid's life but are too busy to attend important school events.

If you work outside the home on a full-time basis, ask if there are tasks or projects you can do at home to be an involved parent. Cutting projects, computer research and a host of easy-but-time-consuming activities could really help the teacher or provider to spend more quality time with kids.

Stay Current on Class Assignments

Be interested in your kid's activities and projects, and take time when you greet each other at the end of the day to ask about what they did and accomplished. Be sure to check folders or backpacks daily, and encourage conversations about highlights and low points.

Parents should know what is occurring in their kid's life.

Be actively involved with your child's learning and homework (this does not mean doing it). For younger kids, read to them every night. Encourage older kids to read to you or to show their newly-learned skills. Establish a routine at home where show-and-tell and sharing occurs nightly, so parent and child feel connected to one another.

Network With Teachers and Parents

Participate in parent-teacher conference opportunities. After all, those meetings are truly designed for the parents; the teachers already know what your kid can do and is interested in.

Build a network with other parents in your kid's class, youth group or daycare. Share information and consider carpooling or even kid-watching of younger siblings so that each of you can have active parent involvement on occasion.

Bring supplies or pre-approved refreshments on occasion, and ask caregivers or teachers if there is something in short supply that you can assist with (as long as you are financially able). The adults will be very appreciative, and kids will benefit from your generosity.

Join your child's PTA/PTSA/PTO. This parent-child-teacher organization is truly dedicated to connecting parents with their child's school and life. PTA meetings often include informative parent education topics, such as helping a child who hates school, dealing with a bully and building a child's self-esteem. The meetings also provide a great way to connect with occurrences at the school and decisions and events under consideration.

Volunteer Together

Think of ways to volunteer together as a family. Show your child how to value involvement and participation. Ask your child how he or she would like you to be involved as a parent. If you have limited time, ask whether he prefers you to lead the reading group or go on the field trip. It's okay not to be able to do everything.

Be sure to fulfill your obligations. If you say you will do something, then do it! Someone is counting on you, and if you don't fulfill your agreement, your kid and her class will miss out on something.

Develop a positive relationship with your kid's teachers. Even if you're busy (and who isn't), take a few moments to ask about their day or if there is anything you should know. Remember to thank your provider or teacher "for a job well done" or for special activities, programs, or skills learned involving your child.

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