As parents (and mothers especially, let's get real) we are stretched to the limit. Between raising our children, professional commitments (whether you work outside the home or not), aging parents and the multitude of issues that arise on a daily basis, it can be a challenge just getting dinner on the table at night... and that's with a committed partner, by the way. Single parents have the same stress minus the extra set of hands. So what are some ways to get involved in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) when you're already strapped for time? Volunteering can easily fall to the bottom of the priority list.
You want to be there, of course. The intention to be present at PTA meetings is genuine, but getting there... well, that's the hard part, never mind actually participating in any fundraisers. As reported by PTA.org, kids do better in school when their parents are involved. In more than 85 research studies conducted over the past 30 years, it has been proven that grades are higher, test scores improve and attendance increases when parents are a part of school improvement programs. Additionally, parents involved in their child's school come to understand any challenges the schools might be facing, and are able to become a part of the solution. But how do busy parents make PTA participation a part of their already crowded schedule? Here are a few ideas:
1. Start small
No one is expecting you to run for PTA president during the first meeting. Pinpoint one committee and see how you can help there, thus not over-committing yourself. Try signing up to volunteer at a school-hosted event such as a bake sale; duties will be broken down into one or two hour increments, and likely on a weekend, so it will not be a huge commitment of time. Avoid getting talked into leading anything — after all, you're just getting started! The PTA can be a great way to meet other parents and feel a part of your child's school in a positive way, but at first, there's nothing wrong with just testing the waters. Other small ways to dip your toe into the school participation pool: volunteer to read a book during story time, act as a classroom helper or bake cookies for a bake sale. Remember, volunteering in baby steps is OK.
2. Volunteer in your area of expertise
You will likely receive a form at the beginning of the school year that asks parents to list any specific skills or expertise they might possess, as PTO Today explained. It will be a lot easier to volunteer for the PTA if you are doing something you already have an interest in or are trained to do. If you are a computer programmer, working on the school website will be much easier to commit to because you're volunteering within your field. Like in just about anything, if you have an interest in or feel confident in a particular skill, you'll stick with it a lot longer than doing something out of left field. I will not be handling the frogs for my child's school Halloween carnival, for example.
3. Make it a priority
Simply put, you have to make volunteering for the PTA a priority. If you're me, it is very easy for items to get pushed aside if they do not make it onto my daily To Do list. However, if the item is there, in black and white, I get it done because there is nothing like the satisfaction that comes with a check mark (list makers will back me up here) after completing a task. Knowing the benefits of being involved in your child's school should help make this a reality, while it demonstrates to your child that their education is important to you.