I’m sure we have all been there – your child comes home with a note about the latest round of school fundraising. Their class is raising money for new sporting equipment and all parents have been asked to contribute by selling chocolate (which we all end up eating ourselves, right?) or baking cupcakes for the school bake sale (at 1am, because we completely forgot and subsequently woke up in a cold sweat). Yes, we sometimes cringe at what is required of us as parents of school-aged children, but volunteering is a crucial aspect of school community and strengthens the relationship between school and home.
I believe that as parents, we want to make a meaningful contribution to our school community and demonstrate to our children the importance of giving. However, the majority of parents are extremely time poor and the prospect of spending extra time on school activities is enough for us to shy away.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of the parents, as the school has a role in recognising and supporting volunteers. Many parents are reluctant to volunteer because there is an assumption that volunteering requires a significant long-term commitment, which often isn’t the case. So how do we better inform parents about volunteering, what is involved, and how parents can contribute?
Your school website, of course!
Using your school website to support volunteering
Your school website should be the go-to place that parents visit to find out about volunteering at your school. Here are four website strategies that your school can employ to get parents involved at your school.
Information about volunteering
It is important to discuss the benefits of volunteering, especially highlighting how it benefits your child and their perception of education. The benefits of volunteering could be discussed in terms of:
- Welcoming parents and families into the school community
- Building a school community that encourages belonging and engagement
- Demonstrating to children the importance of education through parental school involvement
To demystify the expectations of volunteering, it is also useful to explain that volunteering can range from small one-off tasks to longer-term commitments and that any involvement is recognised and appreciated.
Promote volunteering opportunities
As parents often check your school website regularly for updates about school events, it makes sense that the website should be utilised to promote any upcoming volunteering opportunities.
Consider using your school website’s events calendar to promote upcoming volunteering events. Information provided about volunteering events should be accompanied by an online sign-up form to gain an indication of interest.
Parent skill database
Parents from your school have a huge range of skills and talents. Why not draw on these skills when you need a specific task completed? Consider creating a database of parents’ skills and talents so that the school can request assistance from parents possessing matching skills. This will save both the school and parents time and effort.
Parents as guest speakers
Volunteering is also an opportunity for parents to be directly involved in their child’s learning and development in a school setting. Using your parent skill database (see above), consider asking parents who have interesting professions and life experiences to share their knowledge and passion with the school community.
Guest speakers expose children to real-world life experiences from the position of someone who has been there. Children get to experience the insight and perspective of the guest speaker’s particular field. Importantly, children of parents who are guest speakers will also feel a sense of pride and confidence of their parent’s achievements.
Encouraging parents to volunteer at school need not be an arduous task, if parents are well-informed about the opportunities available and the time commitments required. Your school website should be an excellent resource for parents to learn about volunteering, and to register interest in becoming involved.
Little Munchkin Digital are experts at building bespoke websites that showcase parental volunteering. We can also help you build and maintain a parent skill database. Find out more here.