View Full Version : Mom Debate: Required Volunteering?
Jessica at Parenting.com
02-05-2009, 11:38 PM
What do you think: Should a parent be required to volunteer at their kid's school?
Why or why not? Do you volunteer at your child's school? What do you do there? Is it required?
Reply to this message and share your thoughts.
02-10-2009, 11:57 AM
I'm torn on this one. Teachers need the support of parents to make the education process work, and that includes volunteering to help out once in a while. I don't like having volunteerism shoved down my throat any more than the next guy, and I'm all too aware that scheduling volunteer time is nigh impossible when so many of us have so little personal time anyway. But I have to admit, after experiencing the lack of parental volunteerism in my own son's classroom, I kind of wonder if a little bit shouldn't be required.
I manage to volunteer in my son's Kindergarten classroom every few weeks - usually duing big events when I know that the teacher will need multiple sets of hands and eyes to pull off the affair (e.g., classroom parties, etc.). I've even assisted the teacher by doing a little prep-work for daily projects for the kids to complete later. More often than time, I volunteer supplies. I recognize that my family has more money than time to donate, so I do what I can. I donate classroom supplies when needed whether that means buying extra glue sticks for the class, purchasing icing and sprinkes for a class party, or saving recyclables (e.g., toilet paper tubes, family-friendly magazines, etc.) for art projects.
Maybe this is where I should mention that I work full-time, have a rediculously long commute, and I'm pregnant with my second child. Personally, I don't see any of those factors as an excuse to not lend a hand. I know my efforts provide a positive impact - not just for my son but also for the other 22 kids in his class.
As far as the supplies are concerned, I have no problems helping out. We do well enough for ourselves, so it doesn't hurt our budget to buy a few extras for the class. But when it comes to time, I get no more extra minutes in my day than any other parent, yet despite my hectic schedule, I still manage a few hours here and there to help.
I always notice that the other volunteer parents always have the same one or two faces. One semi-regular has a full-time job, and one weekly volunteer has a small child (who often comes volunteering with her mom), and they make the same effort I do.
So what gives? Why can't more parents be involved with their kids education? Teachers aren't secretive. They tell us they need our help. I've heard a lot of people recognize that teachers need parental assistance. So, where exactly are these people when the rubber meets the road?
And the kids do indeed notice parental involvement. I have to confess to the warm-fuzzy I recently received when my son told me that his friends were asking where "Mrs. Julian's mom" was because they haven't seen me in several weeks. He was beaming when he told me. He takes a lot of pride in seeing Mom help out, and he loves it when the kids tell him how they enjoy my 'visits". I like setting that kind of example for him (and the other kids for that matter).
It's all about doing the right thing. Now whether that should be voluntary or forced, I don't have a good answer.
02-11-2009, 06:02 PM
A friend of mine is required to volunteer 10 hours per semester for her children. She enjoys it and it helps her school. I wouldn't be able to do 10 hours if our school required it because we have two younger children and with my husband's work hours, it's simply not possible.
I think as the other two get older it will be easier for me to volunteer and I'll be happy to do so. For a school to mandate it is a little bold in my opinion. Single parents would be forced to choose between their work schedule and "volunteering."
02-11-2009, 11:26 PM
This is a tough one. I don't think it should have to be required. Every parent, no matter what the situation should do their best to try to do their part to help out at their children's school. I have three kids and work full time. I only have one in school right now, but I participate in class parties and school events. I also go on field trips with her. I will always do my best to be a part of their education, required or not!
03-24-2009, 03:07 PM
That is a really tough question, but I don't think it should be required. I think all parents should volunteer if they can, but too many parents work full time and can't get time off to volunteer during work hours. So it's not fair to require parents to volunteer and then judge them when they don't because they can't afford to or are unable to get time off work.
03-25-2009, 11:18 AM
Our society is great at lip service about education, and passing the buck off is a big tendency as well. If you don't show you actually care, the kids will pick up on that attitude. Learning and knowledge are not valued in our culture. i.e. "being a geek" = being smart (but decidedly not cool).
Our entire society needs to embrace the idea of parents in the classroom. Workplaces should be more flexible for the 5-10 hours a semester that each parent (Dads too!) need to offer.
How often do we hear "teachers are the problem". I think PARENTS are the problem first :)
03-30-2009, 09:39 PM
This is a toughy, but NO, it should not required! The minute you make this a requirement, it becomes a chore and a hassle. Parents should WANT to volunteer (if they can) and be involved in their child's education. I work in a school and I know for a fact that I would not be "allowed" to leave to volunteer one day at my child's school without taking personal leave. Businesses are never going to allow this to happen and people can't afford to do it.
04-03-2009, 07:44 PM
I believe that helping in the classroom should be our choice. (Helping our children at home is what should be mandatory, but that's another topic.) My children are in public school where volunteering is not required. Their cousins attend a private school where their parents are required to log in so many volunteer hours per month. With the current budget crisis and our class sizes doubling next schoolyear I would hope that parents would offer to spend an hour a week in their child's classroom, but that atmosphere isn't for everyone. I help my (Kindergarten) daughter's teacher 2hrs a week and some days I come home exhausted trying to imagine how her teacher does her job and then goes home to her own 4 children! I also have a 2nd grader whose classroom I don't help out in, because I have a 2yr old at home and can't leave him with my self employed husband anymore than I already do. (I foresee this changing once he starts preschool...my 2yr old, not my husband.) I, too, see the same 5 or 6 moms helping in the classroom and donating supplies or treats when needed. As the Room Mom I try to motivate different parents to help in the classroom, but I've found that if they don't have it in them to do it willingly, then it's probably best that they don't force themselves...
04-05-2009, 10:51 PM
Parental involvement in school should not be a requirement, because for some families it is a highly unrealistic expectation. However, I strongly feel that if you have the ability to do so you should. After all, what could be better than helping improve your child's education and seeing what it is they are learning? You are enriching the lives of many children and teachers when you volunteer to help out even with the smallest things. And with the enormous budget cuts and teacher layoffs that are occurring right now they could sure use our help. Just think of all the good we could do if more parents stepped up to help our schools by simply giving a little bit of our time every now and then!
04-07-2009, 07:05 PM
Absolutely! Volunteering at school sends a powerful message to our children that school is important to all of us. In a public school, I doubt that we can require anyone to volunteer, but all parents can donate time and talents. Studies show that children whose parents are involved in their schools do better in school.
EVERYONE can volunteer. A busy mom with young children at home can still cut and paste and prep materials. A working mom or dad can make copies or send in supplies for lessons, donate paper for copies (EVERY school runs low on paper and toner by March!) or help fund hummingbird feeders. An artist can teach an art lesson. A landscaper can donate time or supplies for a class garden. Everyone can pitch in. My preschooler shelves library books with me. She helps me scrub desks after school in her sister's classroom during flu season.
05-08-2009, 11:36 AM
We were inundated with request from our school for volunteering time or donations and it seemed like the schools were having a hard time organizing the what they needed and the parents did not know what to do. We now suggest they try to use "pleasebringit.com" It has made a real difference and getting better turn out and more efficient use of everyone time and resources. Best of all its Free.
05-11-2009, 06:57 PM
I was a SAHM for two years and I practically lived at my older daughter's school at the time.
Now that I'm working again full time it is much harder to volunteer. Hubby and I try to volunteer for trips or classroom parties when we can. It also helps that they allow siblings to volunteer at afterschool events at my younger daughters school, which means we can make it a family affair.
That said - my first reaction was no it really shouldn't be required because it is waaaaayyy too hard for some people to have that time off from work. (For example a co-worker of mine just had to use all of their vacation time for jury duty - so now they would have to go unpaid to volunteer at school?)
However, after reading KelEMcE's post and seeing how she defined volunteering I think that could make it a lot easier to swallow. If you think of volunteering as donating time, supplies or in kind work - I think it makes it a little harder not to do.
Of course if there was a differnt attitude in our society that allowed for more flexible time in the work place we wouldn't need to have this conversation now would we :)
02-15-2010, 05:35 PM
I actually veered away from Fundamental programs because I don't like being told what to do. I should rephrase, I don't need to be told what to do. I value education and to show this appreciation I donate my time and volunteer wherever I can to my son's school. It is my hope that my son will learn from my example.
I'm in a fortunate position right now with my family being my only job. I volunteer over 20 hours a week at my son's school. When not at school, I'm often doing something for the school. I feel like I have a job with the paycheck being I see first hand how my being in classrooms makes a positive difference. I help in Kindergarten, 3rd Grade classes and a 5th Grade class.
I see other volunteers - it's always the same people. There seems to be a philosophy that it's the school's job to do everything. I disagree. I believe education is a relationship between the educators, students and parents. The best of relationships require effort from everyone. Understandably a working parent has a struggle. I get it, you're tired and there are not enough hours in a day. Prior to being a parent I recall personal days or sick days from work or I just did a schedule change to suit my needs or desires. Even a simple lunch with your child is huge to your child, even his/her whole class.
I feel a little discouraged with the lack of parent interest. I don't want to say it feels like a burden, but it's definitely as task that if it were shared by many it would be a lot more easy and would make a profound enriching impact! I question my initial aversion to Fundamental schools? I'm discovering that some parents need to be told what to do. Sadly, I believe the truth is that parents don't want do anymore than they have to?
02-15-2010, 08:39 PM
My child spent 4 years at a Montessori school where parents were required to volunteer and were even told what date and time. We were expected to take the time off work or whatever to be there when they told us to. It's difficult at best. I love volunteering at my daughter's school and we intend to continue volunteering even after she starts homeschooling. However, it's shouldn't be required.
Another aspect is this, do you really trust every single parent out there? The parents in the classroom are role models to our children. The major complaint I hear from our local teachers is that they can't get these parents to participate with their children at home, much less volunteer at school. Not all of these parents are the type of people I would want my daughter spending time with. I don't mean to sound judgmental, to each their own. But I am protective of my children.
No...I have a disability and I can't physically help out at school nor should I be expected to given my situation. There are a lot of parents that don't have the time and they shouldn't be expected to either. I can help out in other areas and I do, but it should not be a rule that parents must.
08-19-2010, 03:43 PM
While I agree that schools REALLY need parental help and involvement, I do not think that parents should be required to volunteer! There are several reasons why I say this. First, REQUIRING parents to volunteer creates a negative reaction in lots of parents who might volunteer if they were asked in a different way. Second, some parents really are not able to volunteer because of their work schedule or other obligations (the person who said EVERYONE can volunteer obviously has not walked a mile in the single mom with 4 children and two jobs shoes). Third, some parents enjoy their own kids and have great relationships with them, but were just not cut out to be in the classroom or on a field trip! (granted, there are non-kid related jobs that still need doing...) I would much rather have someone that I know is great with kids and enjoys volunteering in the school be in contact with my kids rather than someone who is forced to "volunteer"!!
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