At the Head of the Class
The title "class parent" generally has higher expectations than volunteering (though volunteering is always appreciated!). But even if you're a single mom or dad, or have a full-time job or lots of obligations at home, you might find that you can still add the class-parent job to your resumé.
In some schools, it is an elected or appointed position, in which you serve for the school year as a representative. In other schools, being a class parent does just mean being a volunteer, and you can come and go as you please. Ask your child's teacher or the principal what the term means in your child's school. Possibilities are:
- Year commitment: This often indicates an elected class parent position, as voted on at parent meetings, to serve for an entire academic year. Responsibilities vary but often include communicating classroom news from teachers to parents, organizing events, and getting other parents involved.
- Semester commitment: Many teachers encourage parents to pledge availability to the classroom for one semester of the year; class parents rotate from fall to spring. Usually this is similar to signing on for the whole year, except the term is shorter.
- Spouse trade-off: Another option is to share year- or semester-long classroom duties with your spouse — if you cannot make it to a fundraiser, he or she goes in your place.
- Volunteer: This flexible alternative allows you to select projects that work best with your schedule. Instead of promising to be at specific events throughout the year (like every single class party, for example), you can volunteer for specific events (one book fair, the class play, and the Halloween party).
- What is the time commitment? Rest assured, getting involved is a shared responsibility among many parents. Most elementary school teachers request that class parents spend about a half-hour at a time in the classroom; middle school teachers welcome any sort of collaboration with parents, since children become more independent during these years.
- What's the benefit? The benefits of being a class parent are numerous and rewarding! Here are five top reasons why you should find out what you can do to contribute to your child's classroom now:
- To provide richer resources. As a class parent, you help your child's classroom prosper instantly, whether you're sharing your knowledge, helping raise money for new books, or contacting exciting guest speakers.
- To meet other parents. Spending time with other parents is one of the easiest ways to get recommendations on babysitters or doctors, learn more about the school and teachers (see #4), and make some new friends.
- Because the teacher will appreciate it. Your child's teacher will be grateful for your helping hand. The role you play is valuable because it lets her know that you are attentive to the learning needs of your child. Being active at school shows the teacher that you are both on the same page — your priority is your child's education.
- To know what's going on. By involving yourself in your child's classroom, you gain access to the subjects he's learning, areas he excels in, after-school activities offered, and upcoming school-wide events.
- To show your child the value of school. Children who have an actively participating parent tend to thrive in the classroom. Why? Because those parents are demonstrating that education is incredibly important — so important, in fact, that Mommy or Daddy (or both) is involved with school too.