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The Room Parent Dilemma: How to Lighten the Load

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by Amy Mascott

Anyone who has a school-aged child knows the familiar, not-so-gentle pull of on-campus organizations, asking for Book Fair volunteers, Teacher Appreciation Week organizers, PTA / PTO board members, tech experts, and room parents. Schools always need clean-up crews, Spring Fair and Sock-Hop teams, Variety Show and Field Day facilitators.

The kids directly benefit when parents are around school or in the classroom. They recognize how much their education is valued. A familiar face in the classroom is comforting. The concept of service is absorbed as they watch their parents help the teacher organize and design the classroom, support learning through reading books, or help small groups of their peers with activities.

I totally understand that schools need parents and caregivers to volunteer their time or much of  our kids’ school enrichment would not exist. Great educational institutions thrive on a solid foundation of parental support. Otherwise, there would be little to no ‘extras’ without the funds raised and time clocked-in by parents.  I completely understand.

But I also know many of us have a tendency to overextend ourselves, agreeing to do too much in too short a time, trying to do everything by ourselves with little to no support from others.  When it comes to volunteering in our children’s schools, we often bite off more than we can chew and end up . . . choking.

Volunteering at school should always be a goal, but how can we support our child’s school and make sure we don’t push ourselves over the “volunteering edge”?

Here are 5 ways:

  • Co-Room Parent: No need to travel the room parent road alone; find a pal and take this job as a pair!  The load is lighter when lifted by more!  Often, the room parent is the one person who organizes, coordinates, and facilitates the activities, gifts, and parties throughout the year.  The room parent delegates jobs and hands assignments to other parents, but really, the job is considerably lighter and more fun when taken on as a team!
  • Delegate: If you find yourself in the position of room parent, make sure to delegate. When you delegate, you assign other people smaller jobs, and the workload is lighter for everyone.  Consider giving one parent (or group of parents) the Halloween party, another the Valentine’s Day party, and yet another the End-of-Year party. Sometimes, all a class needs is someone to take charge. You can do that—but you can’t do it all!
  • Merge Classes:  Consider joining forces with another class and handling your activities together. The more, the merrier, and that can even be true for whole classes.
  • One-Time Collection:  Often Room Parents go through the laborious task of sending home requests for help and money before every single event. Maybe asking for donations at one time—the beginning of the year—will make budgeting for the whole year’s events—a little easier.
  • Think Outside the Box: Unless it’s set in stone that you must do everything a certain way, there’s no harm in thinking creatively about the room parent gig. Instead of a class party, hire a magician for the whole grade. Instead of traditional Valentine’s Day card exchange, have children make valentines for a nursing home or hospital. Why not?

Five simple ways to make an important—but sometimes daunting—job a little easier and more enjoyable.

How do you make the room parent job more manageable? Tell us about it below or on The Mother Company Facebook page.

Amy Mascott is the creator of teachmama.com, where she shares tools and resources parents can use to become the best teachers for their children. Recognizing the need for more peer collaboration, three years ago, Amy built the community “we teach” a network of parents and teachers who connect online and offline, share ideas, and grow as educators—no matter the classroom.

Please share any thoughts or questions you might have below in the comments section.  We love hearing from you!

The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children ages 3-6. Check out episodes of our “Ruby’s Studio” children’s video series,  along with our beautiful children’s booksappsmusichandmade dolls, and more.

Posted in: Guest Post, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Parental Wisdom, School

Comments (1)

  1. Amy Allen Clark

    Oh my goodness! I really needed to read that. I love these strategies for volunteering and still keeping things manageable. Great post, Amy! xo