I get it. You really don’t want to get involved with those people. They are going to judge you and ask you to do stuff and you’re going to have to bake shit all of the time. But maybe not. You have tons of options for helping out at your kid’s school without being a stereotypical PTA Mom.
But Really, Why Should I Volunteer at School?
Experts say that your kids will earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills and be more likely to graduate from college. If that’s not enough to convince you, it’s also pretty good for you:
- Teachers will get to know you. Not only your kid’s teacher but the teacher she’ll have next year or the year after. They will recognize that you’re a parent that shows up and gives a shit.
- Teachers and staff will be nicer to your kid. It may not be fair and it’s probably not conscious, but many teachers will just treat your child a little bit better if they see you helping out around the school. Our awesome custodian bought my daughter ice cream when I forgot to give her money on ice cream day. Shout out to Mr. Hill!
- You’ll know how the school works. While you’re standing at the copier, you’ll hear things. Some good things, some not so good, but things that will help you understand how the school runs. Like that the principal had a run-in with your PTA President a few years ago and he’s still a little scared of her.
- Your kids like it. Little kids love to see their mom (and dad!) in class. It makes them feel special and a little bit safer. As they get older, they may not like having you in class but they do like to see you in the office or the halls every once in a while. I should note that this did not apply to me. As it turns out, I couldn’t keep my dang mouth shut and leave my girl alone, so after first grade, I didn’t get to help out in the classroom anymore. Wah, wah.
- You’ll meet new people. It may not seem like you have a bunch in common with the gal in tennis clothes and makeup on at drop off, but when you’re standing next to her filling bags with popcorn, you’ll probably learn that she worries about her kids the same way you worry about yours and that you share a secret love for Hansen. Mmmbop!
But Do I Really Have to be a PTA Mom?
Short answer: yes. You don’t have to be on the Board and attend every meeting but you have to sign up and pay your dues. Because PTA raises money for your baby’s school to buy them stuff they won’t get otherwise, that’s why. Dues are usually less than $10 and you’ll get on the email list so that you’ll know what’s going on. This email list is a gold mine!
- You’ll get a reminder that tomorrow is crazy sock day so that your kid doesn’t wear sandals.
- They send reminders that Friday is a half day so that you don’t forget to pick up at noon.
- Someone will let you know that tomorrow is track and field day so you won’t send her in a dress.
You get the picture. Yes, they may ask you to sell raffle tickets or bring in something for teacher appreciation, but being saved on crazy sock day is kind of worth it.
What About the Super Mean Moms, Though?
Honestly, in the last eight years, I have only encountered one of those. I won’t kid you, she was a doozy. But, what can she freakin’ do to you? It’s not like you’re going to get in trouble. Luckily, I live in the south, so when I forgot to do flyers for family fun night, they just talked about me behind my back and gave me that pitiful, “Bless Your Heart” look. Who cares! That’s exactly where you want people to talk about you: behind your back. You don’t want them to hurt your feelings by saying something to your front!
Besides, there sort of has to be one bossy bitch or how would anything get done? Somebody has to run the meetings, ask people for money and keep everyone on track. If no one says, “Okay, ladies, let’s get back to the agenda” the second anyone tries to bring up what happened last night on Scandal, we would still be there, at the lunch room table on tiny stools, talking about Scandal. BTW, if you don’t recognize anyone like that in your group, it might be you…
Should I Be a Room Mom?
If you work full time, volunteer at a soup kitchen and play the first violin in your city orchestra, then no. Please don’t take this job on if you don’t have enough time to do it. The whole point of being a room mom is to take some of the load off of a teacher. If she can’t count on you, then don’t do it. If you’re super busy but still want to help out, let the room mom know what you can do or ask her what she needs. It can be a pretty big job and she probably could use the help.
What Else Can I Do?
Make an appointment with your assistant principal and ask how you can be of service. When my daughter was in elementary school, I had quite a bit of time on my hands and I really wanted to help out more at the school. I made an appointment with our wonderful assistant principal and let her know what skills I had and what things I would be willing and able to take on. One of the things she really needed was proctors for end of grade testing. Administering these horrible, ineffective tests takes a whole lot of manpower and she was really glad to have the help. This job required me to sit still and be quiet for a few hours, which happens to be my super power. Win win!
How are you going to help out this year?