There are many great ways to volunteer in elementary schools. Being involved in your child’s school is important. It helps you as a parent to get a better understanding of how the school operates. It also lets the teachers and staff know you care about the school and your child’s education.
To top it off, you will meet other parents who might have helpful tips or ideas that will help your child succeed. Those parents might just become lifelong friends as well. My girls are now in college and I am still friends with some of the parents and staff from my daughters’ elementary school.
You will likely need a background check to be able to volunteer, so don’t be surprised when the school has this requirement.
This post is all about awesome ways to volunteer in elementary schools.
Best Ways to Volunteer in Elementary Schools
1. Join the PTA or PTO
A PTO is a parent-teacher organization that does not have a national overseeing organization. A PTA is a parent-teacher association. PTAs roll up into the national PTA organization. Their purposes are generally the same. PTAs will require a dues payment to join, PTOs may or may not have a dues requirement.
Why join the PTA / PTO? When you join this organization you should automatically “be in the know” on great ways to volunteer in the elementary school. You will likely get some sort of newsletter that will highlight ways for you to get involved throughout the school year. There will be long-term opportunities and event-specific opportunities.
This is really the best way to figure out what volunteer opportunities are available. I highly recommend this even if you don’t plan to volunteer for the school year you are in. It will at least make you aware of where you might help, in the coming years.
2. Copy Room Parent
Even though we live in more of a digital age, paper is still used in the classroom. Your child might even have their own iPad that is provided by the school district. While that reduces paper usage, there is still value of writing things on paper.
If a teacher only uses 1 piece of paper for each school day for a class of 30, over a week that teacher will need 210 copies made. In one month, that’s approximately 4200 copies! I’m not even going to say how many copies in a school year! If a teacher has someone making the copies, they can use that time preparing lesson plans.
3. Book Fair Volunteer
Ah…the good old Scholastic Book Fair. Every year many schools host a week long book sale that is often co-hosted by a company called Scholastic. They provide the books, the school sells them and then Scholastic and the school make a profit from the sales. It’s a win-win for everyone. The kids usually love looking at everything in the book fair. There are even items for those kids that don’t love to read.
The volunteer opportunity here is helping setup the fair, selling books, and “tearing down”. Setup is an easy task because there is a roadmap of where all of the books need to go. If you love reading, you might enjoy helping the kids find the books when their class visits the fair. Typically, each class will have a designated time when they visit the fair. Lastly, you could help “tear down” or close the book fair. This involves packing up all of the books that didn’t sell, taking inventory and getting everything ready for Scholastic to pick up the books.
4. Room Parent
Do you want to volunteer where you get to see your child or help your child’s teacher? Then this idea might be for you. Being a room parent is fun because you really get to see your child in the classroom environment. While you don’t get to be in the class during instruction, you do get to help plan fun activities & games for your child’s class parties. To top it off, you usually get to run the class party at the school. If you love planning parties, this for you!
In addition, you will likely be in charge of creating any sign ups that might be needed. It could be sign-ups for party items or it might be something that the teacher needs.
Don’t worry, the school PTA will help all room parents get organized and will help in the party planning. If you are lucky, you might get a “co-room parent”, so you can divide and conquer.
Just fyi…room parents often get asked first to be a chaperone for field trips. See #9 below. 🙂
5. Fundraiser Volunteer
I think every school needs more money. They might need it to buy PE (physical education) equipment, new books in the library, a playground shade or many other much needed items. Helping with the yearly fundraiser will greatly benefit the school. It might be a carnival, a fun run/walk, an auction or some other idea. Almost all of the ideas need a lot of volunteers. You could help prepare the event, volunteer during the event or help with cleanup at the end. These events are a huge benefit to the school and your time will be a worthwhile gift.
6. Reflections Art Contest Volunteer
The National PTA organization sponsors a national art contest every year for students. If your school has a PTA, it likely participates in this program. Students can submit works of art in dance, film, literature, music, photography and visual arts. The program starts at a local school PTA level and then works it way up to a council, state and finally the national level.
Helping with the Reflections program might entail the following:
- Hanging up students art around the school
- Getting artwork organized by category
- Ensuring the art pieces are properly marked with the student’s name, school, etc…
- Helping submit artwork to the PTA Council
7. PTA / PTO Board Member
Joining the PTA or PTO board at your child’s elementary school has great perks. First, you will be in the know of what is happening at the school and you will get a better idea of how events are decided upon. Second, if it’s a PTA, the principal and probably several teachers will be on the board. Hearing their perspective is eye-opening and it helps parents to see the big picture. Lastly, you have a say on how the PTA/PTO spends their money. I have seen tens of thousands of dollars get budgeted for different projects. If you have ideas or opinions on where money could be spent, being on the board will help your voice be heard.
Don’t be hesitant to join the board. Some positions take minimal time, others are seasonal and of course, some roles will keep you busy throughout the entire school year. Just be clear on how much time you have available when you volunteer. A great tip is to talk to someone who was on the board the prior year. That will help you determine which role best suits your life.
8. Assist in the Library
If you love books and reading, this might be a great opportunity for you. Yes, some of the tasks may be mundane, such as sorting/re-shelving library materials. However, that might be right up your alley if you want a quiet and easy task. It might be the perfect time to catchup on your favorite podcast. 🙂
If you love being around the kids, ask the librarian if there are programs for reading to classes when they visit the library. Another option would be to help kids find books when their class is in the library. Classes usually visit the library once a week, so there are lot of kids visiting the library every day. You might find just the right book for a child that will help them find their love of reading!
9. Field Trip Chaperone
And then there are the field trips…you remember these right? The trip might be to the planetarium, museum, farm, or another place for the kids to learn/explore something different. Schools almost always need parent volunteers for these field trips.
It usually takes up most of the school day, so you need to have that flexibility. It’s fun to volunteer for one of these activities. You get to see your child interact with their classmates in a new environment and who knows you might learn something too.
10. Teacher Appreciation Week
Back in 1953, former First Lady Elenor Roosevelt proposed to Congress that they set aside a day to thank teachers and recognize the value they provide for the children of America. As a result, National Teacher Day became the first Tuesday in May. In 1984, PTA designated the first week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week. This week is designed to celebrate all teachers that dedicate their lives to educating our children.
In March or April, your school’s PTA or PTO will likely start asking for volunteers to help with this special event. You might help create an activity that the students work on to say thank you to their teachers. Many PTA/PTOs will host a breakfast and/or lunch during the week and will request food items for the special meal. Or you might want to do something special for your child’s teacher. There are a ton of ideas on Pinterest! Teachers give their heart and soul to our children, please consider helping during this week in May.
This post is all about awesome ways to volunteer in elementary schools.
Hopefully, this post gave you some great ideas of how you might become involved at your student’s school. There are many ways to help out elementary schools. Good luck on whatever you choose!
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