NAME & STATE: Tina Bushman, Washington State
KIDS/AGES: 5 Kids-7, 9, 12 ,15, 18
WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN A TYPICAL WEEK?
On two afternoons every week, I volunteer in my 1st and 3rd graders' classes for about 3 hours. I help with the weekly "At Home" reading program, check homework, make copies, material prep, and anything the teacher may need help with. I often go to PE with my sons just for the chance to play with them and their friends.
HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO DO? DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL SYSTEM? I've blocked out "school" as a weekly commitment on my calendar for those two days and stick to it.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES/POSITIONS TO DO?
I usually only volunteer for the tasks that I can do while in my child's classroom during the time that I am there. My whole point of being there is to help my child's teacher directly and to be involved with my children. I love to observe how my child interacts with his classmates and friends.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO BE SO INVOLVED IN YOUR KIDS' ACTIVITIES? It is important for me to know who my child is friends with at school and what type of environment they are spending a large portion of their time in. It's also important for me to get to know the teacher, his/her expectations and how he/she interacts with the class. I believe teachers are more patient with the student whose parent is involved in the classroom. It has also helped me be more aware of the areas my child is struggling with. Also, my kids love me to be there. They often ask if I'll be at the school on a particular day or for a special event. When I walk in the classroom, they and some of their friends greet me with a hug, when they are little, or a wave, when they are a little older.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER MOMS WHO WANT TO GET INVOLVED BUT FEEL LIKE THEY MAY NOT HAVE THE SKILLS OR ENOUGH TIME?
Never in 14 yrs of volunteering have I felt like a teacher didn't really want my help. The teachers are so grateful to have even a little bit of help because they are able to do more in the little time they have. They are more than willing to train a new volunteer. I was mostly trained by fellow volunteers and now find myself training the new volunteers. Most tasks take very little skill. Just jump in. When my children were young, I found a like-minded mother in either my neighborhood or in my child's class to trade babysitting with so that we could both volunteer at the school. I've found that if you really want to do something, you can find the time. There is no greater investment for your time than with your children.
To this she responded: You are a rock star!
Which is silly. I'm only doing what a lot of mothers do. And there are so many out there doing even more. Like PTA! Now those are the real rock stars. :)