Why You Need to Volunteer at Your Teen’s School

Why You Need to Volunteer at Your Teen’s School

Recently, my neighbor said she’s become the “Room Mom” for her 1st grader’s classroom. As she talked about all the ways she was helping the teacher I thought, “Why don’t they have this at the high school level? I would have killed for this.”

But then I thought about how much the mom was gaining from the experience. At the elementary level, this type of relationship and volunteering is common. But by high school, it has dropped off. 

But in every high school I’ve worked in, there WERE parents volunteering in some way. Those parents were very well-known by the teachers and staff. And oh.so.appreciated. From photocopying handouts (I think I spent ⅓ of my professional career in front of the copy machine) to hosting field trips to chaperoning dances, schools can’t function without parent volunteers.

And volunteering has definite benefits for parents as well! Research has shown that people who volunteer are healthier and have less stress

Why You Need to Volunteer at Your Teen’s School

volunteer at teen's school

Get the Lay of the Land

I have found through teaching and tutoring that a teen’s observations and feelings about their school may not be…entirely accurate. Getting in the building, meeting the staff, and walking around will help you see a fuller picture of how the school works. Is there chaos in between classes? Do you see lots of classes off-task when you walk by? Or are students engaged, teachers are upbeat, and the building feels orderly?

Build relationships with staff

Being in the school building or helping at after-school events, you will get to meet and know school staff, teachers, and administrators. If something happens with your child, these relationships are invaluable. The teachers and staff are more likely to talk to you early and work with you to solve problems. You’re not a faceless parent, but Karen from the All-Night Grad Party.

Improve your relationship with your teen

I know what you’re thinking. “There is no way my teen wants me in that school.” But if you phrase your volunteering as wanting to improve the school and your child’s education (not checking up on your kid), it will probably go over better.

Plus, getting in the school gives you an insight into how the school works and its calendar. This allows you to ask more specific questions instead of, “What happened at school today?”

There are academic advantages for your teen, as well. Children whose parents volunteer in school perform better academically and have better attendance. That sounds like a win for everyone.

Share your passion

I know that many parents work full-time and have very busy schedules. When would you have time to wrap Teacher Appreciation Gifts? But you can share your personal passion or expertise with students.

As a teacher, I had several parents host my classes on field trips. One parent was a reporter at NPR and took us on a tour of the studio. Another parent was the Secretary of the Army – we got a personal tour of the Pentagon. Granted, these are fancy jobs, but lots of parents have workplaces that would interest students.

field trip
My class on a parent-hosted field trip at NPR headquarters

Another option is to share your expertise. Offer to be a guest lecturer on a topic you have an expertise in – civil liberties, designing web sites, writing ad copy, etc. As teachers, we often are not experts on everything we teach. Having someone do the heavy lifting on a topic is a huge help. And kids love seeing how the things they are learning are useful in the “real world.”

Create a better school

We all know that school budgets are tight and schools are making do with what they have. Any way that you can volunteer will help the school. You may not be able to write a check for $1000, but you can make the school a better place for the adults and children in the building.

How to Get started

To volunteer at your teen’s school, contact the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA). They know which teachers or staff are looking for volunteers. You can also approach teachers during conferences or Back-to-School-Night and then follow up with an e-mail. Or just send a cold e-mail to teachers whom you want to help!

Hopefully, these ideas have gotten you thinking about volunteering at your teen’s school. You don’t have to be there all the time, but helping out a few hours here or there can make a big difference for the teachers and for you!

Are you a volunteer at your kid’s school? What is the greatest benefit you’ve experienced? Let me know in the comments below!

Related Posts: How to Get Your Teen Ready for Remote Learning, Sure Fire Tips for Better Communication with Teachers, Bad Teacher This Year?: How to Handle It

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