Most schools desperately need volunteers in order to lighten the burden of teachers and to help organize special events that can raise money for the school. Unfortunately for working parents, it may be difficult to volunteer at a child's school if your work hours correspond with a child’s school hours. Many times one needs to volunteer at a child's school precisely when one needs to work, but there are several creative ways in which you can still help.
Many teachers take home a pile of papers to grade and record on weekends, extending the hours long past school time that they devote to their jobs. In the past, especially in the high school setting, many teachers had funds to employ readers for this purpose, to do an initial “once over” of students’ material. These funds are now frequently not available. Some teachers may be quite open to having parents share in this work, of either grading, scoring or recording. This can be a useful way to volunteer at a child's school that may be particularly appreciated by your child’s teacher.
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Another form of weekend work that can quickly have you working as a volunteer at a child's school is to offer to type or prepare materials for upcoming classes. Typists and writers are often needed to organize school newsletters as well, and many primary grade teachers like to have their children’s work typed to add to written collections. If you’re a whiz at Microsoft word, or just a quick typist with a home computer, you may be able to save your teacher or your child’s school time by offering your services.
Since schools often do need to raise money through events conducted on the weekends or in the evenings, if you cannot volunteer at a child’s school during the day, you may be able to help with one of these events. Your business contacts may prove useful, especially when schools conduct silent auctions. If you cannot volunteer at a child's school for an event, consider volunteering a service from your business. For example, someone who works in the restaurant industry might be able to offer a free meal for two or four. A travel agent might be able to convince his or her agency to offer a reduced price or free trip.
If you can’t think of ideas on your own for working as a volunteer at a child's school, you should consider attending Parent Organization or National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings. Often these meetings are held at night, and many schools provide free childcare. PTAs and their equivalent can give you numerous ideas for being an active volunteer at a child's school in ways that will not conflict with your work hours.
In some cases, it is better not to volunteer at a child's school. Single parents in particular may be challenged by an overwhelming work schedule, with no partner or spouse at home to share in the household and child care duties. Even in two-parent households where both parents have a heavy workload, time with children takes precedence over volunteering. If you work many hours, your greatest gift to the school may be to focus on quality time with the kids, helping them with their homework, and supporting them in their school efforts.
Lack of parental involvement in a student’s schoolwork can create problems for the child at school, which will require more of a teacher’s time. Helping a child prepare at home often supports the school as much as if you did volunteer at a child's school. You give to the school a child who is ready and able to handle his or her schoolwork, an extraordinary asset.