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A great way to make a huge impact on your kids and your community is to volunteer at your child’s school. Schools have different numbers of male and female teachers, so a male role model in the classroom and on school grounds is a great way to set a positive example for the entire student body. Additionally, your kids will gain a new academic focus when they see you helping in the classroom, taking instructions from teachers, and helping others learn.
Here are a few ways to get and give the most from your experience in your child’s school.
1. Be Flexible on the Dates & Keep Your Assigned Date. Some schools have electronic systems to help coordinate volunteers and some do not. Start with about 5-6 dates and then keep your date once you have set it. Properly staffing volunteers in classrooms is a major burden for school administrators and your flexibility with commitment will be appreciated.
2. Dress for Motion & Appearance. Being an adult in school is like your first day in a military unit. Everyone will be watching you, asking you questions, and evaluating you. Dress to walk a lot, but also make sure that you look good. Your appearance and dress will set a great positive example for all the kids. Finally, make sure you exercise professional behavior. Too many high fives and fist bumps can make the kids too excited to learn.
3. Get Involved, Don’t Hold Back. When the teachers give you a task, go all in to help. If your job is to cut out coloring pages for the kindergarten class for 2 hours, then go and be the best at the assigned task. If you have to bus lunch trays, pick up trash around the school, and mop the floor, then go and be the best. Volunteers at a school do the important and time consuming jobs that the teachers and administrators do not have time to do. You could get a great job like helping kids to read or monitoring the playground, but you should expect some hard jobs. Go all in and help!
4. Spend Time with your Kids - Eat lunch with them & spend a few minutes in their classroom. At the start of the day, make a lunch appointment with your kids (however many they are). Eating lunch with your kids at school can make a huge positive impression on them and their friends. Also, make sure that you eat what they eat. How can you expect them to get their energy and nutrients to get them through the day if you do not set the example? Trust me; if you are a military member or a veteran, you have most likely eaten a lot worse. Finally, always pay attention for a child that needs help with a milk cartoon, opening a package, and watch for any signs of choking. Don’t spend more than a few minutes of the day with your kids in their classrooms because that can be unusually distracting and hard for their teachers. A few planned minutes during the day that is pre-scheduled with their teacher makes a great day for everyone.
5. If You Identify a Problem, Have a Fix. Teachers and administrators can be overwhelmed on the day-to-day of school operations with sick kids, budget issues, administering lessons, and planning for field trips. If there is an overloaded book shelf in the classroom and weathered signs in the parking lot, you are probably not the first to notice them. What can you offer to fix these? Can you create a standard, school approved design for bookshelves with a crew to make them? Can you repaint the signs on a weekend and have the signs back early Monday morning? This identification of issues with action based solutions will make an immeasurable difference.
6. Get Other Dad’s to Volunteer at School. Encourage other dad’s to volunteer at school and talk about your positive experience. In some schools, male role models and volunteers can be rare, so you will definitely make a difference. If you can get a group of 2-3 dad’s to volunteer 2-3 times a year on the same days, it will make an incredible difference.
Volunteering at your local school makes for a very rewarding and a very tiring day. Educators have a job that is immensely challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Your presence in the school, the classroom, and throughout the day will help set a positive role model and a positive example for all the students. Finally, remember to come back and get others to come back throughout the year. If everyone does it just twice during the school year, imagine the difference you could make.
How have you volunteered at your child’s school? Share your story and advice on how to get involved below.
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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