I often find myself having the same conversation again and again with working parents – they say that they don’t have time to volunteer at their child’s school, or time to be an active member of the PTA. Then they counter those claims with complaints of things they dislike about the school or the people in PTA.
On the contrary, I have heard the cries of PTA board members begging for help with fundraising and various activities at their school, but they are not flexible with the volunteer times.
How the PTA and Working Parents Can Work Together
As a working parent AND an active PTA member, there have been times that I have used my personal vacation time to volunteer at my child’s school, or left work early to arrive on time to a PTA event, so I can relate to some of the concerns.
Every school year I dread the inadequate feeling that I get when I think about all of the school events that my husband and I can’t attend or help with due to being working parents. It pains me to know that I can’t make it to my child’s school to have lunch with her, chaperone a field trip, or volunteer in the library. I confess that not looking for pity or to complain, but I do have some great ideas about ways the PTA and working parents can build a better relationship.
Working Parents Can:
- At the very least, actually join the PTA. Dues are inexpensive and your membership is important to them.
- Request the school’s activity schedule for the entire school year – or at least the semester – at the BEGINNING of the school year. Doing so gives you the ability to plan ahead.
- Sign up as a VOLUNTEER (not a board member) and reach out the PTA president to introduce yourself as a working parent who wants to help outside of normal school hours.
- Volunteer your skills and strengths, if you or your company can provide a specific service or good, make sure the PTA is aware.
- Speak up! As a parent/volunteer/member your voice has power. Provide ideas and feedback. Your perspective is important and very much needed.
- COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. Share your school’s PTA social media posts. Help them advocate for your student.
- Team up with other working parents to volunteer as a group to tackle large events or tasks. Find your PTA buddy and split the volunteer time with them.
PTA Boards Can:
- BE REALISTIC – you will not get a large number of volunteers at 10AM on a Tuesday. Most families have working parents.
- Provide an avenue for working parents to fully participate. Allow some tasks to be completed at home, work, virtually or in advance of an event. Not all task require parents to physically be in the school).
- Offer a thoughtful variety of ways for working parents to attend meetings. (FB Live, Zoom, etc.) If you can’t live stream meetings, at the very least record and archive them so parents can watch to see what they missed. YouTube channels are free and most people have a smart phone.
- Make PTA communication transparent. Ensure that the location of meeting notes is highly visible and accessible to parents, both in hard copy and electronic.
- Offer later meeting times, or two sessions. Session #1 during the day, session #2 after 5:00 PM.
- Broaden your scope and reach out to families that normally don’t volunteer. A personal invite and a full explanation of the PTA and its goals and agenda can go a long way.
- Put signs around your community announcing PTA events, meetings and sign ups. Small yard signs work great as reminders that people will notice as they leave the grocery store, or exiting the car rider line.
- Take the responsibility off of the children to communicate news from the PTA to parents.
- Most schools have enough tasks to spread the load around. Break large tasks into two sessions: Session 1 during the day for parents that can assist during the day, Session #2 in the evening for parents that can assist after work.
We all know that the stay-at-home parents can work overtime to complete ALL the PTA tasks during the school day, but there is no need to overload their plate, when there is a second group of parents waiting to contribute their time to assist. Working parents really want to help!
An Important Note of Gratitude
To the parents that arrive at the school at the crack of dawn to decorate for special events and holidays, that travel on every single field trip, and always has an extra snack or lunch for the child whose parent forgot, thank you! I appreciate you and all that you do for our schools and our kids!
To that parent that has to be at work before the sun comes up and gets off when the sun goes down, to the parent that can’t commit to being a volunteer classroom parent, but can send a check for extra supplies and snacks, thank you! I appreciate you and all that you do for our schools and our kids.
– How to Join Your Local PTA –
Each system’s district PTA group below can connect you with your school’s PTA. Some school website have PTA information, and some do not. Check yours and ask to join!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ShaVonne Cammack is a LEO wife (law enforcement officer) and mother of two. Originally from Omaha, NE, but moved to the Rocket City in early 2000s to attend and graduate from Alabama A&M University. In her spare time she enjoys cooking for her family and friends.
This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with current info.
As a hyper-local website focused on all aspects of parenting in and around Morgan County, and the Tennessee Valley, River City Mom occasionally asks local parents to submit their stories for publication. This is part of our continual effort to represent varied viewpoints and experiences on our site. However, these articles should not be seen as necessarily expressing the views of Rocket City Mom Media Group, LLC.