1. PTA/PTSA/PTO – Probably the most recognized volunteer opportunity at most schools.
Levels of participation for any of these groups range from a few hours a year to making it an almost full time job. The choice is up to you regarding just how much you want to participate. If you don’t see postings around the school or in school newsletters about how to get involved, check in at your child’s school office and ask for the name of the school Parent Association President or organization member responsible for New Membership. Odds are high that they will be very happy to hear from you! They may offer some kind of questionnaire or sign-up to see what interests you most; or just chat with them about what specific volunteer needs they are trying to fill.
2. Classroom Volunteering – This is usually most common in the lower grades, but occasionally there will be specific needs for upper level classrooms. The most common opportunities are for: Room Mother, test graders, playground helpers, photo-copying, cutting, reading helper, special programs assistance, school office volunteers (attendance taking, etc.), and others. Occasionally special training will be offered for some specific programs and the time required should be considered when deciding if that commitment would work for you.
3. Specialty Teaching Assistance – This is kind of a different twist on the classroom volunteering, and again most common in the elementary grades. If you have special talents or training in a field like music, dance, art, debate, etc., some teachers may be very enthusiastic about having you come in to share your expertise. Policy on this may vary within schools and usually parent instruction time is overseen by the teacher (who is also usually in attendance and available to help with discipline and classroom structure.) The best way to approach this is to let your child’s teacher know about your interest and abilities and also be aware of the course curriculum in your child’s class. If your abilities can bring enrichment to the studies, be sure to make them known.
4. Booster Organizations – These are usually found most often on the secondary level, but there may be some special activities with support groups at lower age levels. Groups may be organized to help provide funding, rides, sponsors, etc. for a sports team; they may also work to raise money for other activity needs, such as dance club, cheerleading, music groups, theatre productions, debate teams, school alumni, etc.
5. Activities Support – The many activities taking place in any school at any given time require all kinds of support efforts from school staff, parents and willing community members. These individual needs can include chaperoning groups at dances or other events, driving students to competitions, providing food for activities, working at school event snack bars, helping keep track of band uniforms, sewing costumes for school plays, and the list goes on to include a myriad of unusual volunteer opportunities.
The key to finding a workable fit for any parent interested in participating in their child’s school is to be aware of what is going on at that school:
• Read your parent newsletters
• Check your child’s backpack or notebook for information sent from the school
• Watch the school or district website
• Read postings at the school
• Talk with your child’s teachers and administrators about programs and activities in the school
• Above all, talk with your child to find out what is happening at their school. Joining in as a volunteer at those activities is a great way to get to know your child’s friends and how your child is interacting at school … plus, you get a unique opportunity to spend time with your child!