How to Be an A+ Volunteer (Without Being an A-hole)

Tis the season!

Tis the season! School and activities are in full swing, which means plenty of opportunities to volunteer. Throughout the years, I’ve volunteered numerous hours in and out of school, and many more hours at the ice rink, and I’ve learned a few lessons – some the hard way.

Before you raise your hand to attend that field trip or help out with your kids’ sports, here’s a few things you should remember:

Don’t Volunteer Just So You Can Hang Out With/Spy On Your Kid

Don’t volunteer just so you can focus on your child and ignore the rest of the kids. In fact, if at all possible, volunteer in a different classroom or for a team/group your child isn’t on.

Pro Tip: Teachers and coaches of younger kids always need an extra hand or two because looking after kids under the age of six is like herding cats.

Do follow the rules laid out by the teachers/coaches

This may seem like a no-brainer but I’ve seen many parents completely ignore rules outlined by coaches and teachers. Not following them undermines their authority and confuses the kids. When you have your own class or group, you get to make all the rules you want.

Don’t bring snacks for your group if all the other kids get none

You would be surprised how many parents do this on field trips. And when I say many, I mean me. And yes, I learned that this is 100% not acceptable when the teacher pulled me aside and confiscated said treats.

Not only is it not fair to the other kids, there could also be allergies involved. Keep the extra treats at home.

Don’t use this as an opportunity for a mini-interview

You are there to volunteer, not talk to the teacher about six-year-old Johnny’s ability to read at a 7th grade level, or how your child isn’t getting as much playing time as the other kids. If you need to discuss something about your child, schedule an appointment.

Do Let the Teacher Teach and the Coach Coach

Remember that when you are in the class or helping out at a sport, you are only seeing one small piece of the picture. While it may not entirely make sense to you, the teachers and coaches have a plan in mind. Trust that they are doing their job.

Do Have Fun

Volunteering your time is one of the greatest things you can do. Even when you’re exhausted, it will bring you joy to be giving back. Plus, you’ll learn so much, not just about your own child, but all of the kids you work with.

Which brings me to my last point:

Do Keep It Confidential

You WILL hear stuff you aren’t supposed to hear when you volunteer with kids. When I was volunteering in my younger son’s kindergarten class, a sweet child gave me his sister’s bank card pin number (true story). Keep it all under your hat, and file it away for a good chuckle later on.

Because you never know what your kid is saying to the volunteer in her classroom.




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