As a parent volunteer who has spent numerous hours in a myriad of classrooms (I have five kids, remember. And, I volunteered to be in every single one of their classrooms all through elementary school), there is a certain decorum…unspoken rules one must abide by so that their children aren’t ostracized by their peers. And also, so that little Tommy’s mommy thinks it’s okay if he played with your kid.
I just read an article about a parent…a Mom…who made cookies for her kids classroom. They weren’t your ordinary chocolate chip cookies, not by any stretch of the imagination. Which made me realize that this needed to be done. Seeing as we are in the throes of yet another school year, I present you with a primer on how-to’s and don’t ever’s when it comes to doing any type of volunteer work in your child’s school.
1. Leave the penis and vagina cookies for your at-home sex toy parties. Cookies in the shape of sexual organs? Yeah, it’s just something you DO NOT send to school. Not in any grade. Not even when your kids go to college. Never. Unless you want your kids to be bullied on the playground because hey, kids are mean and you’re giving them ammunition. Maybe bring in some pencils with fuzzy toppers. Or perhaps some non-choke inducing candy.
2. Party Pooper: When you are the parent volunteer in charge of room parties, dress appropriately. For example, coming dressed as a vampy witch with exposed cleavage is probably not the most suitable choice in costumes. Playboy Bunny and little bunny fou-fou are two totally different things. French maid costumes are probably not the wisest choice either. And, let’s not dress our kids as mini-me’s either, lest their reputation tarnishes prematurely. Also, tuck away that third boob.
3. Freak out. Say freak, say chic. This is sort of an important one. Parents should leave their temper tantrums at home when volunteering in the classroom or in the school. Having a full on fit in your child’s classroom is a sure fired way to get the entire staff and all the parents wondering if you are in your right mind. Also, it’s wisest to not resist the police if they show up to escort you from the school property. And lastly, don’t swear at the principal or drop F-bombs in the hallways.
4. Timing is everything: When you’re really busy, volunteer for a specific time. I have no time to chair anything, but I volunteer in the library every other week for an hour or two. Its easy, I’m on the list, but its something I can plan on and doesn’t involve extra hours. And for the love of all that is good, DON’T REVEAL THAT YOU USED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL FUNDRAISER FOR A SCHOOL. (Some one at preschool found that out. Guess what I was asked to head up?) —Melissa Angert
If you have two or more children, think carefully about how much time you can volunteer. Signing up to be room parent for all your kids will not work when parties are on the same day/time. Be the room parent for one child then next year alternate. –Jill Berry
5. You gotta have art: If you volunteer to teach art and then the room mother makes it very clear that SHE teaches art every year but that she’s “sooooooo glad that she doesn’t have to do it this year” and then proceeds to tell you how to do everything, micromanages every damn thing, incessantly suggests projects for the coming month and repeatedly offers to take over if you “just cannot handle it,” when she doesn’t know anything about you… It’s best to let her just do it because she is suffering from an issue with control and needing to feel important by being the art teacher and let’s face it, you have better shit to do than argue over whether to make a jack-o-lantern or witch for Halloween.
Not that this just happened to me or anything. —Kadi Prescott
6. Timeliness is next to..oh whatever…don’t be late. If you’re supposed to show up at a particular time to help the class, it’s best to show up on time. Classrooms are on a tight schedule so even showing up a few minutes late can completely throw them off. If you find that you’re going to be late, call the school and let them know. Because, that’s the nice thing to do. And don’t show up with vagina cookies to make up for your lateness!
7. Fielding the field trips: Sometimes you just can’t do it. I would love to be there for every single field trip or center or classroom help the teachers need. However, something has to give and, to keep my sanity, I just don’t. I make a point of doing at least one thing a year for my boys (my daughter is in college) and they also have “brown bag lunches” which means I can go have lunch with them. Other than that, anything else I do is a surprise.http://www.coupledumb.com
Also: If you are a field trip chaperone, follow the teacher’s instruction to the letter. A mom on a field trip decided to bypass the museum and instead take the kids to play football on a grassy area outside the museum. I stepped in as the kids needed to see the Hope Diamond, dinosaur fossils, etc. The mom was not pleased with me. Her kid wasn’t interested in the museum at all. —Jill Berry
8. Turn off the phone. I know, this is a really difficult one to do, especially for FB addicted parent volunteers like myself. But, the classroom isn’t a place for Facebooking. And, if you have a kid like mine, you’ll be fighting the whole time you’re in the classroom because that said kid will be begging to use your phone. And then said kid gets into trouble with the teacher and you have to take the kid home because he’s become a complete wreck. Not that this has ever happened to me. *Crosses fingers and hides them behind back*
9. Don’t be a gossip, girl. It’s fun to sit and chat with the other classroom moms, especially when you don’t get out much during the day and your only form of communication is through texting and status updates. Oh, and blog posts. But, gossiping in the classroom, especially if you’re discussing little Jenny’s mom and little Peter’s dad…in voices that are teetering on outdoor voices…yeah, it’s just best to plan a GNO for those gossip fests and keep the chatter in the classroom to subject matter suitable for kids. Because, you don’t need little Jenny going home and telling her mom what she found out.
10. Share the love. Kids love when parents come into the classroom. Especially your own child, of course. And, it’s to be expected that he or she would get preferential treatment. Only…don’t do that. Share your attention with all the kids who are demanding it. Even the classroom bully needs love and you can use that time to tell him that the next time you hear that he/she was torturing or teasing your son, you will allow your son/daughter to unleash their hidden beast that you’ve spent time trying to talk them into keeping locked up. *deep breath from that run on sentence*
11. Follow the rules. Yeah, schools have rules and even parents are required to follow them when on school property. Be respectful. After all, you are a role model and kids emulate parents. Be a parent that other parents wouldn’t mind if their child emulates. Or something like that.
12. Word of advice: What goes on in the classroom, stays in the classroom. If you are a classroom volunteer, don’t share ANYTHING about the kids’ progress. Don’t share reading levels, number of sight words recognized, math scores, etc., with ANYONE outside of the classroom. This information is confidential. I once knew of a parent who created a grid of sight words recognized and then shared the grid with neighbors to prove that her kid was in the wrong group. Other parents were furious. Jill Berry
13. Give the gift of reasonability: Teacher gifts…be realistic about how much people can contribute. Give a suggested $ amount but realize that people will give what they can. Also, let the entire class give the gift to the teacher NOT just your kid. I’ve known moms who organized the class gift so that their kid could hand the gift to the teacher. We stopped contributing to class gifts and instead bought our own gifts since my kids really liked handing a gift to the teacher. –Jill Berry
14. In our classroom, last year, just the room moms donated for one gift and we left the rest of the class to do it on their own. Problem being, not everyone remembers…or even intends to…give their share. And, you can’t leave out one or two kids from the card based on their parents. So, if you aren’t going to even bother giving money toward the gift then don’t say you want to be in on a classroom gift. Just don’t.
There you have it. Now use this information to go forth and make this the best school year ever. For your kid. And you can enjoy it too..because you now know what to do!