Fredericksburg Parent

December 2017 - January 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 43

38 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • December 2017 & January 2018 Every parent has been there. You are attending a parent meeting for your child's class, sport or activity, and here it comes — the pitch to pull in parents to volunteer. If you are shy, your palms may start to sweat. If you are feeling busy, you might have a knee-jerk no-can-do response. If you have had a recent bad volunteer experience, you may be thinking, Never again. But you are informed and you know about all those studies that say children of involved parents enjoy school more, make friends more easily, and experience increased academic suc- cess. So, doggone it, what's a reluctant parent to do when asked to volunteer at school for the umpteenth time? Wisdom: Start Small & Increase Involvement Over Time. There is something to be said for understanding the lay of the land before you make a com- mitment. So rather than jumping in with both feet, why not dip in a toe and get a better sense of who does what? Chances are good, if you pitch in a little, you'll notice not-too-tax- ing ways you can give more next time. Let a coordinator know at the end of one volunteer cycle if you have your eye on a specific role next time. Or simply indicate that you'd like to become more involved. Know Strengths & Acknowledge Weaknesses. Whenever I bring my natural skills into the volunteer process, I feel more confident and empowered to make good things happen and I get work done quickly and cheerfully. So try to align what you are already good at or passionate about with volunteer commit- ments. You don't need to explain your strengths and weaknesses; you can simply make wiser decisions about how to contribute if you examine your skills first. For example, if volunteer coordinating gives you headaches, take a behind-the-scenes role, if that's where you can excel. Step Up And Offer Your Spectrum Of Skills. Sometimes school organizations have job descriptions to fill but these roles are seldom written in ink. So have a conversation with volunteer coordinators about what you can contribute and how much time you have to offer. If you can see yourself succeeding at an offered task, say yes. If you cannot, ask for another assignment. If asked to do something you think you cannot pull off, the onus is on you to take a pass. Trust that someone else will step up. This is no time to try to please the coordinator or impress other parents. Create A Calendar Of Manageable Commitments. Once you make a commitment to volunteer, call a family meeting and discuss how your plans will affect the family. Will you be away from home on Wednesday nights, need someone to pick up your after-school carpool or want your mate to pick up dinner on the way home? These are all good things to anticipate in advance, as much as possible. If you have more than one child, be mindful of over-committing to too many volunteer responsibilities all at once. Let coordinators know what times of year you are avail- able for each child to avoid accidental overlap. Common Volunteer Pitfalls If you give from your over-flowing places, you will likely enjoy volunteering. Pitching in can be satisfying and you can become a more generous volunteer by avoiding these pitfalls. • Ingratiating yourself to the person in charge. • Over-committing to the point of exhaustion. • Becoming the de-facto disciplinarian of the group. • Expecting students to admire you. • Taking things personally. • Taking credit for things you did not do or finish. • Gossiping, complaining or criticizing the project or the people involved. • Taking on the role of the person who is actually in charge. • Attempting to change, fix or confront other volunteers who are not living up to your standards. • Expecting future special treatment for your child because you volunteered. written By christina katz

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Fredericksburg Parent - December 2017 - January 2018