My adult daughter, now a mother of 3, asked me why I was involved in the PTO when she was in elementary school. What a great question, but I did not have to think very long about it.
I knew that kids did better in school when their parents were involved, and I wanted to participate at the school to help make our daughter’s learning experience the best possible. My wife and I were eager volunteers there for 8 years overlapping our two daughters’ elementary years.
As we considered ways we could help and be involved we decided to divide and concur. Sure we both were there for key events like field day, Halloween, concerts and special events, but we each prioritized other times we could help on a consistent basis. My wife could make time at work to be at the school on a weekly basis during the day when she volunteered to listen and help younger kids as they learned to read. She also brought snacks and helped in the class room for parties and special events as needed. My schedule was more challenging so I joined the PTO which met in the evenings.
We had great experiences and made many family friends over time. We were also able to observe classroom dynamics which equipped us to better support our child at home and understand periodic issues and concerns. Our participation also help open communications with teachers and staff over the years when there were issues in learning, behavior and social interactions between kids.
I know that some parents may say they do not have the time, we found that we could make the time. It was important to set boundaries which we did. Generally one or two hours a week was all that was required to make a difference. In our case, the staff and other volunteers supported any commitment, even as small as an hour a week or month.
I have also heard that some parents do not feel comfortable or welcome in the school. We did not have that experience, just the opposite. Teachers and staff understand the importance of parental participation and go out of their way to ensure that volunteers are welcome – always within the safety and security guidelines of the school.
Lastly, I also found that some parents with serious time restrictions just could not regularly participate in school activities or volunteer in the school. In today’s world and even during our experience there were always activities that could be performed primarily at home or outside of the school. I remember counting money after the school carnival on a Saturday evening and addressing envelopes (maybe email notices today) at home in the evening on several occasions.
I can sum it up simply. Volunteering in support of our children’s school and being involved in the classroom or in school activities outside the classroom was one of the most important family decisions we made and I believe it still is today.
Interested in doing more for your child’s education?
Interested in joining the PTO community?
Now is your chance! The next PTO meeting is April 20th at 2:30 PM. We’ll be taking nominations for PTO Officers and Committee Chairs for next year.
Need to know more about the positions and what they do? Check out the official information here.