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Do you volunteer, contribute or get involved at your dc school? Why or why not?

(182 Posts)
Earlybird Wed 14-Oct-09 12:39:09

Just curious about who does and who doesn't, and their reasons...

notnowbernard Wed 14-Oct-09 12:41:55

Would like to, but is difficult. I work part-time and when not, have dd2(3) with me

Also work shifts, so cannot commit to a certain session, which they seem to want at dd1's school

theDeadPirateRoberts Wed 14-Oct-09 12:45:25

I don't, other than turning up at the school fete once a year.

A major part of school is to learn independence within a peer group IMO, and if he sees me around then that's threatened. School should be his space, and I don't want to get involved unless there's a problem he can't handle on his own.

Plus, he learns what he learns at school, but DH and I have plenty of other things we want to teach him at home. And I think it's healthy for him to learn that institutions have different priorities than people - which would be confused if he saw me as part of the institution.

Does that make sense? Bit of a ramble I know...

KnickersandVests Wed 14-Oct-09 12:48:51

I used to quite a bit at the last school, it was small, one form entry, community school and everyone sort of knew everyone and was very friendly even though it was in London but now we have moved out of London DD goes to a big three form entry school with lots of rich, suburban alpha mums who are years older than me and they run the PTA and are cliquey and they don't make you feel very welcome so I don't help at this school very much even though I would have liked to.

Earlybird Wed 14-Oct-09 14:23:30

Dd's school wants parents to get involved to encourage a sense of fun/community outside the academic side of things.

They want parent volunteers for Autumn Festival, annual Art Show, drama performances (usually help with costumes, makeup and props), second hand book sales/baked goods sales, etc. Many events are aimed at raising funds to buy non-essential equipment that enhances school life.

Other volunteer opportunities are aimed at helping the teacher (photocopying/collating hand-out materials for class, assembling materials for class projects, etc), or organising class parties for various times during the calendar year (book day/ Halloween/Valentine/end of year parties/Summer Fete, etc).

I realise it is difficult for parents who work full time in office jobs to volunteer, and accept that childcare can be tricky for those who have other dc to juggle. But, am starting to feel a bit of a mug, because it is almost always the same core group of us who roll up our sleeves and muck in when the call for help goes out. It seems reasonable to think that even the busiest parent could drop off some baked goods for a class party (even if store bought)....

As a single Mum (with no family or financial help), I am busy too. But I make time because I think it is important to contribute in some way to the school community when asked.

Hulababy Wed 14-Oct-09 14:27:43

I did the last year and half. When DD was in Y1 and 2 I was helping out a lot and very regularly - listening to readers, doing craft, supporting the teachers, etc.

Parent helpers are not the norm in DD's school really but I was gaining some primary based experience as was having a job change. At one point I was doing 3 days a week

This year DD is in juniors and I am busy with me own job, so not going in anymore. If they did require parent helpers - such as for trips, etc. I would help out if I was able.

southernsoftie Wed 14-Oct-09 14:49:39

Done quite a bit on the PTA as an extra pair of hands, helping out on stalls, organising the odd event. Always try to make a cake (working mum's guilt means I feel worse for buying something rather than making it)and try to give something to the tombola. I have been in to help with reading but blush only really because I want to find out how my dc is doing relatively speaking. May be changing my work pattern later this year and have thought if I do that I might try to volunteer a bit more. I like feeling I am contributing to the school life, and it is a good way to make friends with other mums too.

MillyR Wed 14-Oct-09 15:19:03

I don't get involved. I think it sets a better example to children if the family gets involved with volunteering that helps other areas of society, rather than benefitting the family directly by helping in their own children's school.

I think a lot of volunteering is just pushy parents trying to get an advantage for their own child, gain influence with staff and snoop and gossip about other people's children. I really think the very least schools could do to reduce this is make parents help in a class that their child isn't in.

I work, have 2 children and have time to volunteer, which I do. But not in my own children's schools.

notagrannyyet Wed 14-Oct-09 15:26:08

I did through all their primary years. Did everything really. Friends of ....., helped make costumes, cook, craft, heard readers(never in DC class), helped with swimming & school trips.

Mine are all at secondary school now and don't do much at all. Helped a bit with PTA at first, but they weren't a very friendly group. Seemed to me they were not bothered with people who were just prepared to give their time. They seemed more interested in parents who could supply 'things' or had a bit of influence. I did my best....supplied whisky for tombola etc., but came off after couple of years.

They do sometimes ask for help from parents on school trips in yrs7 & 8. I've thought about it, but DC have begged me not to gowink.

Always try to support sport teams when lads are playing. Have been scorer for cricket matches. Do attend functions sometimes.

Lulumama Wed 14-Oct-09 15:29:05

I did briefly when DS was in reception and then i got pregnant with DD and was v v sick and felt unwell

all the meetings and events that need help are at a weekend or during the evening, exactly the times that DH works and I won't pay for a baby sitter so I can go and volunteer at school

I contribute financially and also volunteer for other things in different areas that make a difference to the community.

gremlindolphin Wed 14-Oct-09 16:39:09

Was PTA Chair last year, still on PTA committee and always help and attend everything and do Travel Plan and EcoSchools things, Parents Group, fruit rota etc - I love it!

I'm not a pushy parent or cliquey. My Mum was very involved and I loved it when I was at school so I just expected to be involved when I had my own children at school. I work part time so there are obviously some things I can't help at. It does seem at our school that the people who give the most time to supporting school are people who work!

I think that support for school is really important but as far as time goes you just have to decide that what works for you and your family is what you will do.

Its going so quickly that I'll have to find something else to be involved in soon anyway!

ShellingPeas Wed 14-Oct-09 17:15:24

I have been on PTA for 7 years, plus I run an after school gardening club and choir and help out in school productions. I don't help in class during the day as I work, but do feel I have skills which can add to the children's schooling experience so I do what I can, when I can.

I don't think I'm a pushy parent. I don't expect any favours from anyone and have no desire to snoop or gossip about other people's children. I get nothing from it apart from the satisfaction of a job well done and that I can provide something for the children which would otherwise not be available.

SixtyFootDoll Wed 14-Oct-09 17:18:35

I do what I can
Not a lot as I work
But help out at school disco/ fetes
Do it because I want to help the school
They do a great job for my children and I want to give a bit back.
How strange to think people do it to get special favours.

SixtyFootDoll Wed 14-Oct-09 17:18:40

I do what I can
Not a lot as I work
But help out at school disco/ fetes
Do it because I want to help the school
They do a great job for my children and I want to give a bit back.
How strange to think people do it to get special favours.

blueshoes Wed 14-Oct-09 17:20:05

I volunteer on the occasional school trip or in manning a stall or going in to speak to children about things like my dd's cultural heritage.

But I am not part of the PTA - no reason other than I don't like to commit to being part of something when my work and dcs take priority.

Prefer ad hoc volunteering when it suits my timetable.

abgirl Wed 14-Oct-09 17:24:22

DS just started but am trying to get involved mainly because my parents never were and it made me feel that they weren't interested in my education as long as I got the right grades. I work full time so can't attend PTA planning meetings in the garden centre in the mornings wink but I can get paid time off to be a school governor so am standing to be a parent governor. Not really bothered about gaining influence or pushing DSs interests but do feel that school should be an experience for the whole family and am interested in contributing where I can.

CarGirl Wed 14-Oct-09 17:25:25

I don't because I'm not particularly fond of most other children!! I can't bear the thought of listening to children read or working with them - it's not me at all.

I do volunteer in other places doing other things.

I may get involved with the PTA but it partly depends on whether I start working more hours (I'm trying to) I've got 4 dc so life is fairly hectic to commit to regular extra stuff.

Hulababy Wed 14-Oct-09 17:28:07

I think a lot of volunteering is just pushy parents trying to get an advantage for their own child - no, not a pushy parent here; and no benefit to DD from me doing the help

gain influence with staff - well I got friendly witht he teachers Iworked for, and would chat, etc. at school. But nothing more - certainly don't need to get on their good sides.

and snoop and gossip about other people's children - nope, didn't do that either. I have been a teacher myself for several years and still work in schools now. I am profressional and this extends to any voluntary work I do.

I really think the very least schools could do to reduce this is make parents help in a class that their child isn't in - I disagree whole heartedly; just make parents aware of the school's expectations and any evidence of gossiing, etc. and they are not invited to come back in and work.

TBF I have known many parents to help in the school I work at and have seen no evidence of snooping ad gossiping, and certainly never recieved complaints from other parents either.

Milly - maybe your school is different but this is not what happens where I am.

nighbynight Wed 14-Oct-09 17:56:33

Im too busy, and Im scared of the keen parents and their perfect children.

nighbynight Wed 14-Oct-09 17:58:40

My neighbour is down at the school helping often, and she uses the opportunities to gossip like mad about other people, and stir up stories against them.

she is a nutter though.

TigerFeet Wed 14-Oct-09 18:04:08

Before dd2 was born I helped out at dd1's school one morning a week, mostly listening to readers but doing other odd jobs too.

DD1's school is quite big and they keep parent helpers away from their dc's year groups so there's no crossover.

Now that I have dd2 I won't be able to go back until she starts school herself as I have no-one to look after her locally and I can't afford to pay for childcare if I'm not earning myself.

I only did it for a year and I really enjoyed it. I did it to see whether I would enjoy it as I was half considering teaching or being a TA as a career change. I'm still undecided on that front.

unfitmother Wed 14-Oct-09 18:09:24

Hardly ever go near the place, DD's teacher didn't know who I was at Parents evening last year! blush
I work full time and DH works from home so he picks up and drops off.
The PTA are real PITAs and I couldn't have anything to do with them other than financial support. They're a nightmare they did a 'Mums' act at the Summer fair (FFS!), it was cringe-worthy!

IdrisTheDragon Wed 14-Oct-09 18:14:54

I am about to start helping at DS's school again - I did last year for a while but then DD started to get very clingy at pre-school and I wasn't really able to commit to doing it.

Part of my reason is when I asked roughly how often children got listened to reading in his class, I found out they wanted more help and as I am a SAHM who does some things in the evenings mainly, and DD is at pre-school every morning and happy smile I am able to do it.

I did go to PTA meetings last year for a while but found (a) I wasn't in the clique and (b) the meetings kept being changed at short notice and if I need to get DH to come home early enough for me to go out in the evening, I like there to be a reason for it.

I am on the pre-school committee as well.

PrettyCandles Wed 14-Oct-09 18:15:48

I do, but not to a great extent. I hope to get more involved when youngest is at school.

I want my dc to understand that we value school, it's important, not just somewhere we shove them during the day. If we, their parents, participate, then I hope it will be more meaningful to them.

Also, children in general at schools with involved parents tend to do better than those at schools with little parental involvement.

And thirdly, because my dc are the only Jews in their schools, so it is important to me that we are neither afraid to be different, nor be strange or mysterious, so I'm available to the teachers for anything cultural or religious. After half-term, for example, I'll be coming in to talk about Channuka.

And finally - but very importantly - I love being invited for the childrens' annual Thank You Assembly. It is touching and utterly delightful.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 14-Oct-09 18:21:39

I help in class and on various 'projects'. I do it because I enjoy it. I like being with the children and I like what I do there. I don't care what other parents think of me. Always completely maintain confidentiality. What goes on in school is non of my business and its non of any other parents business.

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