It's back to school time! It's always a mix of feelings at this time of year -- excitment for new classes and seeing friends again, adjustment to school bedtimes and schedules, and a little mourning for the carefree days of summer.
As a parent, I always look for different ways that I might get involved at my child's school. When the kids were very young, it was easy to volunteer in the classroom and at school events.
Now that they're older, there is less of a need for classroom helpers and honestly, the kids don't want their Mom tagging along on all the field trips any longer :)
So, I've found a number of other ways that parents might choose to be involved at their child's school --
Getting Involved at School
1. Join Your School's PTO/PTA
Many schools have parent-teacher groups (called PTOs or PTAs) that help to coordinate all the school events, fundraising and school-wide activities. There are usually quite a few opportunities to be involved in various committees. If you're great at marketing, you might offer to help gather financial support for your schools fun run, carnival or field day. If you love reading, check to see if your PTO sponsors Battle of the Books, Chat and Chew or other extra-curricular reading groups.
2. Start a Walking School Bus
Do you love walking your kids to school? Lots of schools would love it if more kids/families would walk to and from school. It cuts down on traffic in the drop-off lanes, saves gas and is helpful to the environment.
You might be just the person to start a Walking School Bus at your school. The idea of a walking school bus is just like a carpool but without the car! Someone helps to coordinate adults who will walk by various houses and pick up kids who want to walk to school, then everyone walks together in a group. Volunteering, helping the environment and exercise all rolled into one! Talk to your school principal about starting a program.
3. Volunteer to be a McGruff House in your Neighborhood
Maybe you can't be at school because you still have young kids at home. Some kids have to walk home alone and it can be a frightening experience, especially for those who are younger. McGruff Houses offer a safe haven for kids if they run into a trouble on their way to or from school. Contact your PTO or school administration to find out if you can register to be a McGruff House in your area.
4. Start a School Recycling Program
Many schools want to recycle more of their paper, cardboard and plastic -- but they need help to coordinate the program. If you are eco-friendly and like to encourage recycling efforts, offer to help get a recycling program started at your school.
Do Something has a great guide to starting a school-wide recycling program. In addition to traditional recycling, you might also look into projects such as recycling juice boxes, cheese wrappers and chip bags with Terracycle. This organization upcycles waste - the take it and turn it into useale products!
5. Shelve Books at the Library
One of the most used rooms in a school is the library! Let's say your school has 500 kids attending, and each child can check out 2 books every week. That's 1000 books that need to be re-shelved each week! Librarians already have a number of programs they work on with classrooms throughout the school, so they would welcome your help! Stop by the library and find out if there's something you can do to help this year.