Volunteering at your grandchild’s school

Remember when you were young and your kids were starting school? If you were one of the fortunate parents, you had an opportunity to spend time at school with your children. That was not the case for many parents who had to work. Those parents usually made it to open-house and teacher conferences but missed the day-to-day school activities.

If you are a grandparent who lives close enough to your grandchild’s school, here is your chance to enjoy all the school experiences you missed. If you were the fortunate parent who spent time at school with your kids, you already know that volunteering can make a difference. Grandchildren love having their grandparents involved in their education especially when grandma or grandpa are on campus and involved in the classroom as well.

It is well known that our schools are in budget distress. Funding has been cut and teachers are being laid off. Programs like music and art are things of the past. This is a great opportunity for grandparents to share some of the skills they have acquired. You say you have no skills. There is plenty to do.

Simple tasks

Can you operate a copy machine? Can you cut out a shape? Can you grade a math paper? These are simple tasks that teachers appreciate. Actual classroom time is better spent teaching than trying to do all the administrative tasks that rob teaching time. For those who have forgotten their times tables, this is an additional boost. Imagine the brain cells being rejuvenated. You are not required to be on campus everyday but can pick and choose your own schedule.

Classroom reading

Schools often have a week of reading where guest readers are invited. Dr. Seuss week is celebrated in many schools. Firemen and police officers give up their time to read in each class. Grandparents are welcomed in this role. Bring in a favorite book and read it to the children. If you read to your grandchildren often, you will have developed a reading style that holds their interest. This will work for all the kids.

Artistic or other talents

Bulletin boards beg for attention. Paper-mache animals and planets need to be created. Although teachers have ideas for art projects to work in conjunction with the topic of study, not many will turn down a volunteer with ideas and know-how. Have music to share, speak with your child’s teacher or the office staff. They will put you to work.

Classroom volunteers

With budget cuts, paid Instructional Aide’s are no longer an option. If you have time to spend daily or weekly in the classroom, you will find an opportunity that can make a difference in the life of a child. When you see them grasp a concept that has eluded them in the full classroom setting, you will know how important that moment was to the child and to you. Working in the classroom gives those who struggle a real opportunity to learn.

How to volunteer

Ask your child’s teacher. You may have the opportunity to work with several groups of children. The office staff will be able to match you with a teacher or a classroom where you are needed. Check with the Librarian. There are always things to do. Is there a computer lab? The options are many.

If you only have one day during the year, join the parent association. The Book Fair needs help and they need extra hands at the Fall Festival. Want to go on a field trip. Parents are always needed. What could be more fun than going to the wild animal park with a bunch of kids? Don’t think you can handle it? You don’t have to be in charge of all of them, usually it is just three or four. That one day makes a difference.

Your grandchild’s school needs you. You might wonder what’s in it for you. When James understands a long “e” or when the light bulb goes on in Alexandra head that writing neater makes it possible for people to understand what she is trying to say, they have learned these lessons for life. When you realize that you are part of the discovery, it is an amazing feeling. Your grandchild will rush up and give you a hug. His friends and the children you work with will greet you. Teachers smile when you arrive. It is an opportunity like no other.

If you are a grandparent who would like to volunteer but live far away from your grandchildren, the opportunity is also open to you. Our schools need help and you will not be turned away. Grandparents have much to give. What better way to give back than to make the life of a child better.