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There’s no Alice Cooper song for this occasion

September 5, 2007

For most, school is already back in session or soon to be.  My 3rd grader (where did the time go?  Didn’t she start preschool, like, yesterday??) has her first day tomorrow.  A new school year means many things.  For parents, one of the most dreaded next to school supply shopping is the call to volunteer.  Whether it be for the PTA, your kid’s classroom, AYSO or Little League, everyone seems to want a piece of your time.  What’s a parent to do, especially one who has little time on her hands?

I’m here to tell you to listen the call and step up.  There’s nothing quite as rewarding as being involved in your child’s life, and as corny as it is, you do get back much more than you give.  I’m proud of the fact that I work for an employer that gives me the flexibitiy I need to do my job effectively while keeping things functioning on the home front.  Even so, I’m not going to be able to be at every school function, every Brownie meeting or even every soccer game.  So how can I contribute?

The best piece of advice I can give to any parent, but especially a working one is to find something that you can do that will serve a need.  Some task that is unique to your skill set and may not be to others.  Take Brownies – they meet on Thursdays after school.  That’s one of my worst work days and I am rarely home before 6pm.  I thought, how can I help the troop when I can’t make the meetings?  For one thing, I could take over emailing responsibilities for the troop.  One less thing for the leaders to do.  Doesn’t have to be done at the meeting.  Can be done on my time. 

What about a blog?  Great way to keep track of upcoming events, and for parents to review what happened at past meetings.  I can work in this with my daughter, and maybe there’s a techno badge that Girl Scouts offer that she can qualify for.  Maybe we can turn this over to the whole troop to contribute to.  So many options. 

I was team parent for AYSO last year, and every week I sent an email with the place and time of the practice session and the game, as well as what jersey the kids were supposed to wear.  Parents told me that they came to rely on those emails and found themselves unable to function without them.  I like when I can set the bar high. 

So I challenge all parents out there – do one more thing for the kids than you did last year.  I gurantee you won’t regret it.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2007 7:16 pm

    If your free time is only in the wee hours of the night, helping the teacher with their paperwork is another good one. They all have book orders to fill out, and to be frank they probably weren’t hired by your school for their ability to collate, compile, and process order forms. That sort of paperwork can help the teacher focus on teaching rather than data processing.

    Far more rewarding to the parent and only slightly less helpful for the teacher is volunteering to read to the class. I did that a couple of times a year in my oldest kids’ K-2 years but didn’t manage to do it in his 3rd grade year. And honestly, I missed it. The kids love having one of the moms or dads in the room for a change, you get to see how your kids’ friends interact in a school setting, and the next time you’re in the school all the kids will smile and wave at you.

  2. September 6, 2007 8:41 pm

    The only reason I ran across your blog is because of the Alice Cooper mention. He is one of my favorite artists.

    Anyway, I am glad I did because it brought back to me how very, very different life can be depending on what cards you draw in the motherhood game. Me? I drew an A: the autism card. I would drop dead from reflief if school supply shopping and calls to volunteer were the most dreaded thing about new school years for me. (Before I managed to get my daughter placed in an appropriate school,) I would worry about different stuff. Will the teachers understand my daughter? Will the children continue to turn away from her? Will she be able to withstand the tremendous amount of anxiety and stress that just being in school creates for her, or is this the year that she will crash and burn? My Sarah crashed and burned in fourth grade. Unable to keep up with the social, emotional and academic demands of a large middle school she developed post traumatic stress disorder, became suicidal, and disappered from school one day (full police search effort-longest 60 mins of my life!) before I could get the school district to even admit that things MIGHT not be going so well. The principal wanted to put her in a Life Skills class and forget about trying to teach her(she has at least normal intelligence, probably better.)I had to fight like hell to get her the education she deserves.

    Anyway … not to complain, just to point out that shopping and volunteering is a cake walk in my neck of the woods! UPSIDE: Through Sarah I have found my life’s calling … I am a special education activist. Just started a civil right movement in Massachusetts to fight for special education rights (little known is that kids with disabilities are routinely denied their educational rights) Hope to go national. A far cry from where I was when I attended Bentley College for my MBA! I am broke as a church mouse but happier than ever. Go figure! check me out at http://www.spedwatch.org

  3. September 7, 2007 9:55 am

    Hi Ellen. It’s always interesting to see how people find a blog. Regardless of how you came here, welcome!

    My nephews and nieces attend public school in Mass. I have to say that I have been surprised at some of the things that I hear about their schools, so you’re comments do not seem at all surprising, unfortuantely. Your cause is a great one and it will hopefully help many students.

    Our school district here in NY is the smallest in our county, yet it decided 10 years ago to strenghten it’s special ed services, in an effort to serve both the students in the district and to gain revenue from taking in students from other districts. It’s received heaps of praise from educators and parents alike. They use various models, from pass and expanded pass classes to inclusion and co-teaching. My daughter is in 3rd grade and is in a co-taught class. It was something we actively sought out for her. Last year, she volunteered as a mentor for a kindergartener who was autistic and really loved the experience. This year, she wanted to be a part of something similar. The children in her class are mostly in the high-functioning austistic range, but I haven’t met the class yet to relay that accurately. We also felt that by having a co-taught model, there would be times when she could move much faster through some of her work, which was a problem last year when her yearning for “math, math and more math” was thrwarted by the curriculum. I definitely will be blogging about this as she gets more into the school year so I hope you can stop by to contribute to the discussion.

    Also, there are a TON of blogs out there written by parents of kids with special needs. I’ve become a regular reader of one written by a woman I met at BlogHer – it’s called the Family Room and you can find it here – http://susanetlinger.typepad.com/the_family_room/

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