Like public schools, charter schools rely on the parents of students to help fill gaps in funding and staff support but parent volunteers are more important than that; they enrich the school experience for students and teachers. From donation of supplies to volunteering their time, when parents get involved with their children’s education, everybody wins.
They Help the School Financially
Parent volunteers can save the school money. If well-organized, parent volunteers can help aid teachers in classrooms or help out in the lunchroom and on the grounds of the school in ways that can allow the staff to be used elsewhere. Parent volunteers not only save the school money on staff and donating school supplies, but they can also earn money for the school by organizing and participating in fundraisers, working concession stands at sporting events, etc. Many schools earn a lot of money by having concession stands at school events.
They Enrich the School Experience
Parents come with different skills and life experiences. Sharing these with students can open their eyes to a world outside of multiplication tables and sentence diagrams. It helps establish a strong school community. When parents volunteer, they get to know the teachers and other students and the teachers and other students get to know them. This bonds the group as its own community and builds pride in the school. It also teaches students and parents about the importance of giving time to help others.
How Schools Can Strengthen Volunteerism
For some charter schools, parental participation is a requirement for enrollment in the school and it’s not surprising that many charter schools were originally established by parents seeking an alternative to public schools that would give them more influence on how their children were educated. Whether volunteering is a requirement or not, having it help the school effectively takes dedication and organization.
Stay on the volunteer effort. If you don’t, the number of volunteers will dwindle. If the school doesn’t have the resources to provide staff to do this, use parent volunteers. Appoint Parent Liaisons to keep in close contact between parents and the school to make sure school needs and parent availability match up.
Other ways that schools can boost parent involvement are:
- Have a brainstorming session with staff to develop a complete list of tasks where parent volunteers can help. Some parents may prefer something simple like after school pick-up duty while others may prefer something more involved and creative like planning a school event.
- Take the task list and come up with clear descriptions of each volunteering position so parents have a full understanding of what they may be volunteering for. It helps to distribute talent!
- Put the list on the school’s website and create an online sign-up form to make volunteering easy.
- Regularly hold a parent coffee hour before work where parents can get to know each other, share ideas, and organize volunteering hours. Send out surveys for parents who can’t make it to coffee hour to get their input too.
- Have volunteering sign-up tables at the beginning of the school year during Open House or Welcome Night the way colleges do for their clubs and organizations.
- Send out thank you notes to parents who volunteer or throw them an appreciation event once a year.
- At informational events, show specific ways that the parent volunteers have helped the school including how much money was saved or earned. Show them the numbers!
- Use social media to promote school events and school accomplishments to foster the feeling of community and connection with the school and the students. It’s also a good way to ask for last-minute volunteers if needed.
How Parents Can Volunteer
There’s really no end to how parents can volunteer to help out in schools and most schools will welcome new ideas from parents of how they’d like to help. Some things that parents can do to help are tutoring, provide supplies, skills training, school events organization, reading to students, shelving library books, and aid teachers in the classroom. No matter how parents choose to volunteer, the school benefits from strong parental support. Parents should see themselves as partners of the school, faculty, and students because that’s what they really are.
A successful charter school is one that has parents strongly supporting the school on campus as well as in the community. At Eagle College Preparatory Schools of St. Louis, we value the parents in our school and encourage them to help us in building a supporting and loving environment where students can grow and succeed academically and in life. To find out more about what our wonderful schools have to offer your child, visit our website or call Eagle College Preparatory Schools at (314) 664-7627.