April 07, 2011,
L.D. asks from Newport Beach, CA on March 30, 2011
Do You Volunteer in Your Child's Class? Debate with My Friend. Weigh in Please
My friend and I are having a small debate. It is in my opinion that volunteering at your child’s school is essential. She believes a parent’s presence at school or in the classroom would hinder the child’s learning. Basically, be a distraction. By the way, my friend does not work and her son is her only child.
I’ve always volunteer in my daughter’s classroom/school and will plan on doing so in my son’s as well once he starts Kindergarten this Fall. I’m a member of the PTA, I get involved in a lot of activities and events and communicate with the teachers all the time.
My daughter is in the school’s GATE program for gifted children and I truly believe part of her success has been because of my involvement with her education. Not only that but she takes part in all the events.
My friend’s opinion is that my daughter is “an exception”. Her son has always struggled in school so how her presence in his classroom hinders him even further is something I am having a hard time understanding. She did volunteer once when her son was in Kindergarten and when she got home she said it was the last time! Apparently there was just too much going on, kids everywhere, and the kids kept asking her one question after another. O.K. sure that is not for everyone but I can’t help but wonder if she has this opinion or just trying to make an excuse because her one and only experience left her frazzled.
I do notice that not a lot of Mom’s volunteer so is there some truth to her opinion? Is my daughter the exception?
Anyway I told her I was going to ask all you Ladies what you think? Do you volunteer in your child’s classroom? Why or why not? That is if you are ABLE to (have baby at home, work, etc.) There is no right or wrong answer = just opinions.
I’m planning on volunteering in my son’s class regardless just because I enjoy it so I’m really just seeking opinions =-)
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So What Happened?™
we're having a debate because SHE is actually the one to give me grief about volunteering. I never bring it up. However, please don't take this too seriously.
Molly = My friend and I actually love debating. It's not always a bad thing and definitely not about one upping =-) Doubt she would ever let it go though! She is one that feels it's her way or no way LOL!
S.C. answers from Milwaukee on March 30, 2011
I don't volunteer at my kid's school because I would have to take vacation from work to do it. I would rather use my limited vacation from work to actually spend the day w/ my child, not in school.
But, I do attend the school's after school functions w/ her.
5 moms found this helpful
N.G. answers from Dallas on March 30, 2011
I don't volunteer, I don't plan on it. My daughter's time at school is readying her for independency and she doesn't need me hovering over her every second. She doesn't get any benefit from me being there and I feel like the mob of parents around actually makes the teacher's job harder sometimes!
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K.C. answers from Philadelphia on March 30, 2011
There hasn't been an opportunity to volunteer in the classroom this year (although in years past, I have volunteered a LOT in their classrooms!), so I volunteer in the library instead. My girls LOVE it when they see me there, other kids come up and ask "are you Kate's mom? are you Anna's mom?" and I get to know their friends that way. I get to see my girls do their thing as if I was a fly on the wall.
Last year when my middle girl was in 3rd grade, I volunteered in her classroom a lot. Besides the fact that the teacher *genuinely* appreciated the help (sorting papers, putting together laminated cards, busywork), it let her know that I was a parent that was available, accessible and approachable. I think it really benefits both my girls to see that I sometimes spend part of my busy day in their school. And I also think it helps the parent/teacher/school relationship if they get used to seeing you around the school. I'm able to keep communication between the school and myself open, I can approach them with any concerns I might have more easily.
I really only see benefits to volunteering in their classroom or school. As a SAHM, I consider it part of my job: being involved in my kids' school life, and I consider myself very lucky to be able to do this while I have the chance.
But ask me again in a few years when my girls are in middle school. They'll probably pretend they don't know who I am when they see me around school!
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L.A. answers from Austin on March 30, 2011
I am realizing you all think we volunteered in the classrooms all of the time.. I never actually helped in the classroom. Some parents did, but I was mainly working behind the scenes. We had a teacher workroom, that teachers could leave projects, they asked for help making copies, Cutting out shapes or lamination.. organizing homework packets, we volunteered in the office, Library, lunchroom. So most of the time, my child did not even know I was in the building.
We helped the Principal, the asst Principal, the Nurse, the Counselor, the special area teachers (they do not have homeroom parents).. with lots of their projects. We took New parents on tours of the school. We took care of the school information sign..
So please understand, there are 100's of ways to help in your child's school and it is not always actually in the classroom or even for their grade level.. We are not hovering around our or your children children at all. That is how I can tell some of the responses are not from parents that have actually volunteered in their children's schools yet. You are assuming, but it is not like that in most schools. Teachers need to be able to teach, If they need a parent in the classroom, that is completely different from just volunteering for the great of the good for the entire campus..
Here is what I have observed. Yes, the students that have parents, moms or dads, step parents, even grandparents that help up at school and in the classroom, really do better. It shows the child that their education is important.
There are exceptions I am sure, but I cannot think of one parent, that I recall volunteering that their child did not end up graduating and doing really well in school. Maybe your friend should volunteer to help at school, but not in her sons actual classroom?
Now when you get to middle school, your children are going to tell you they do not want you there. I used to remind parents to tell their children,
"I am not there to visit you, I am there to help in the office, Library.. whatever... here for a meeting.". I made a deal with our daughter, unless she said something to me first, I would not say anything to her in the middle school halls.. Of course her friends would call out to me or run up and give me a big hug.. Then she was more comfortable with me there.
In High school there were tons of parent volunteers again.. It goes so fast and there is so much help needed on all school campus's.. They cannot get everything done with out our help.
10 moms found this helpful
T.H. answers from Kansas City on March 30, 2011
Well, I dont know if your daughter is gifted b/c you volunteer in her class, I'm sure your investment in her education started way before she started K, so I'd actually give yourself a bit more credit for that in the early years. That being said, I do think that volunteering in the classroom is almost always a positive thing for both parent and child. When I taught school (3rd grade) the kids loved to have their parents there helping out. It made them feel cool and special, even if they tried to pretend it didn't. Sometimes if a parent was "volunteering" b/c their child had behavior issues, the kid wasn't too thrilled but it did send a strong message to that child that their parent and teacher were on the same page and that mom and/or dad were invested in them and their learning. The only time I would say it would be "bad" to have a parent volunteer is if they are inapporpriate in any way during the day...ie: bad language, putting their kid or other kids down, that kind of thing. I would imagine that is pretty rare, but it happens. If your friend isn't a person who interacts well with kids, maybe they could give in other ways that would benefit the class but not be so much "in the class". Good for you for volunteering and keep encouraging others!! :)
Oh and this isn't really your question, but I wanted to add that in my experience, parents who do volunteer their time and interact with the teachers even if they aren't always present at school, have better behaved and "smarter" kids. They aren't always in the gifted programs and certainly aren't always "angels" but they, both the kids and families, value education and the process and it shows.
9 moms found this helpful
J.B. answers from Atlanta on March 30, 2011
I think it depends on the kid and the school. I volunteer at my son's school whenever I can -but not in his class during class time! It IS a huge distraction for him, and he always misbehaves if I'm there. It's the same at church. I volunteer to teach any RE class they have -but not my son's! Some kids are just wired that way. It's fine if I go on a field trip or help out at some after-school event. Since I'm usually working full-time, I don't have time during the school day anyway, but I offer to pick up extra supplies for the teacher if I'm going by a Michael's or something. There are lots of ways to help out, so I think it really depends on the situation.
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D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on March 30, 2011
Yes, I am able to volunteer. So, yes I do. I enjoy it & my son likes seeing me at school. My son's class has 3 "parties" per year and I go in for that. I also get involved in lunchtime once per month.
That said, I think there is an entire class of moms who are über-involved because they just can't stay away! I think kids learn an important lesson when school becomes "their" world during the hours they are there.
It's the moms that go in twice, three times per week to help do bulletin boards, make copies, ever-hovering, etc, etc, etc that I think is unhealthy. It's like they can't bear to take that leap of letting the kids be independent or something.
I also think it depends a lot on the kid him/herself. Some children probably do find it distracting. Sounds like your doesn't.
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J.B. answers from Boston on March 30, 2011
I agree with your friend. Other than the rogue field trip or sending in refreshments for an event, I do not volunteer *in the classroom* per se (work FT) and none of my children has suffered for it. I don't think there is any correlation at all between a child's academic success and having mom there reading to a group or drilling flash cards. And I absolutely see her point about how for some children, it would be way too distracting and would hinder the learning process. For example, I teach my 1st grader's Sunday school class and he is a total nightmare for me - pushing limits, talking non-stop, etc. He's far and away the worst kid in my class, but in "real" school, he's great. Unless I'm there (they have "writers' breakfasts" before school several times a year) and then he acts up. So don't invalidate her experience.
I am very involved in my children's schools outside of the classroom, mostly through PTO events. I go to meetings, head up committees, and am on the board at one school. I like to feel connected and it gives me a good way to find out who is who so I stay in the loop and find out if my kids - especially the middle schoolers - are hanging out with delinquents, etc. I can also easily use my corporate skills for the benefit of the schools. This is important to me, but it doesn't make a lick of difference for the kids (other than people telling them "I know who your mother is and if she finds out what you just did you'll be in big trouble" ;-) ).
While volunteering in some way is important and beneficial to me, I have plenty of friends who don't help out with anything (unless I drag them to an event and promise them wine afterward) and their children are excellent students who thrive academically, socially, and in extra-curriculars. So the bottom line is continue doing what you're doing because you enjoy it and it's important to you, but don't take credit for your daughter's success over it or attribute someone else's child's struggles to lack of literal involvement in school. When they talk about the importance of parent involvement in school success, that means helping out at home, being aware of what's going on in school and taking action as appropriate to ensure that the child is able to perform to the best of his or her abilities.
7 moms found this helpful
D.N. answers from Chicago on March 30, 2011
I did volunteer when my kids were in pre-k and kindergarten. I did not work at the time. It can be difficult to get involved with school though I do think that being involved with your child's education is very important. If you cannot volunteer, then helping your child outside the classroom also helps. My kids are in one or other higher learning classes. They get excellent grades as well. Do I think it has something to do with the way I handle their education? You better believe it. I do not tell my kids, do your homework and you can go outside or whatever it is they ask to do. I make sure homework is done, preferrably neatly (though I am sometimes just glad to have legible), make sure reading is done--by my terms not the school's. 20 minutes is not much for 6th grade so I say at least 40 minutes unless it is the first or a rare nice day out. I also make sure the teachers know from the first days of school that I will send notes or emails or whatever if I see anything that concerns me, if I think someone might be slacking off, or if I just want to know how they are doing. I do not wait for report cards or status reports mid term. Although I expect my kids to be responsible at thier age for their homework and school work etc, I know it is easy to slip up and then not know how to catch up. In my house, I have a rule. There are NO EXCUSES. There are reasons, but no excuses. Forgetting homework is an excuse. Sorry, no. Forgetting a book, excuse. Nope. But getting sick at school and sitting in the nurse's office or having to come home early so you end up not knowing what to bring home, reason. But I do want things made up. It all depends on how you are involved, not necessarily where. If you accept your child to fall behind, they will not bother to catch up or excel.
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M.P. answers from Pittsburgh on March 30, 2011
You are 100% correct and there have been studies to prove it. Kids do much better when their parents are active participants in there education and that means being present at the school from time to time. I will never for the LIFE of me understand how some parents don't feel this way.
And you know what....you can absolutely tell the kids of the parents who care enough to be involved. It is not by accident that they are excelling academically, socially and have more overall self-confidence.
Lastly- I LOVE being in my kid's school. I get such a kick out of the kids-to me that is far more rewarding than anything that I have done in my life to make money. you get one turn on the swing of life and it will go by quickly.
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P.R. answers from Cleveland on March 30, 2011
I definitely volunteer as much as possible! My oldest is in first grade and she absolutely loves me coming. At the same time, she almost ignores me once I'm there and goes about her business. I don't think I hinder her at all and honestly probably give her a bit more help than other kids if she needs it. Or I at least check in how she's doing more than once. I've never heard of it hindering a child - maybe once they were in junior high or something and embarrassed. Our public school really needs parent volunteers. When I'm there I see how hard it is for the teacher to answer each individual question, give guidance etc.
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