Whether you are a superstar mom volunteer or just getting started, you might have heard a thing or two about how volunteering in your child's classroom can benefit your child. Kids whose parents volunteer in the classroom have shown improved test scores and grades, better self-esteem, and more regular attendance. But what about parents who volunteer? Are their personal benefits to lending a hand in your child's classroom? Indeed, there are. Check out these different ways being a parent volunteer in the classroom affects your mental health.
Of course, there are probably some downsides, too. Volunteering in the classroom might make you feel like you have to keep up with other parents who are volunteering (and that feels icky), or you might have to navigate it carefully if your child is going through a particularly clingy phase.
But, all in all, research shows volunteering — whether it's in the classroom or at the animal shelter — more often than not serves as an overall boost to mental health.
And, really, scoring points in your kid's classroom, while also keeping your mental game strong? Yeah, those are some benefits you certainly aren't going to scoff at, especially when it means less stress for the both of you, am I right?
1. Less School-Related Stress At Home
“Volunteering in your child’s class gives you a delicious peek into your child’s daily life,” Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a psychologist and internationally published author of several parenting books told New York Parent. “You’ll be able to see how the teacher and students interact, pick up on the atmosphere in the classroom, and perhaps see a whole new side to your own child."
In turn, Christina Hibbert, founder of Motherhood Radio-TV, told the magazine you'll then be able to better discern your kid's strengths and weaknesses, which might help make for less stress when it comes to homework frustration or chatting about school life at home. And that's a win-win for both of you.
2. You Might Make Some Friends
Volunteering in general can help reduce feelings of isolation simply because, by nature, it requires you to interact with other people. And the same goes for lending a hand at your kid's school.
"It’s possible to create friendships that can last long after the volunteering ends," noted AbleTo.com. "And, especially for those of us who are naturally more shy and introverted, a volunteer activity can help break the ice while helping others."
3. Better Communication With School Staff
Another personal victory when you volunteer in the classroom? You're bound to be in like Flynn with school staff and, let's be honest, that right there alleviates tension surrounding your concerns about your child's performance at school. After all, being familiar with school staff means you'll have better relationships that allow you to more easily communicate.
4. It Gets Your Mental Juices Flowing
Mentally stimulating activities, like tutoring or reading (both of which are done in your child's classroom), might help maintain memory and thinking skills, according to Harvard Health Publishing. On the other hand, "activities that promote physical activity would be helpful with respect to cardiovascular health," according to the publication.
The gist? Playing an active role in your child's classroom can boost overall health — and that includes mental health.
5. It's A Welcome Distraction
If you've been preoccupied with, well, life, then you might notice volunteering in your child's classroom serves as a way to retrain your focus and help you relax, according to PsyPost.org.
"There could also be an evolutionary mechanism," the website said, noting that our ancient ancestors who helped each other were more likely to survive as a result of a dopamine 'high' that was linked to volunteering their time.
The website added, "Dopamine doesn’t just make us feel good, it is also used as medicine for treating low blood pressure, heart disease, Parkinson’s, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and drug addiction."
6. It Could Reduce Symptoms Of Depression
If you struggle with depression, then you might want to consider that studies have shown volunteering can reduce symptoms associated with the condition. Writer Kaleigh Rogers discovered that she noticed exactly that when she began volunteering at a therapeutic riding program for children with disabilities. "It has quickly become one of the most reliable ways for me to de-stress — I've found it more effective than meditation, medication, or exercise," Rogers wrote for Motherboard.
7. You'll Feel All The Love
According to Forbes, researchers at the London School of Economics took a look at the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness, and "they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were." It turns out that volunteering builds empathy and strengthens social bonds which in turn helps increase those lovin' feelings.