I have a question for the parents of school going children re extra curricular involvement in your child's school. Or put another way: Why is it always the same parents who volunteer to cover books / work at the cake sale / sell hot dogs?
I am not trying to judge, I am trying to understand the reasons why some people don't volunteer to help out. I have thought about it, and these are some of the reasons I can think of:
- Many parents work full day - they are simply unable to help out during the day.
- Maybe some parents believe that the school should be doing this and not asking the parents to do it
- Maybe some parents believe that there are enough people already volunteering to help so their help is not needed
- Maybe you have done the cake sale thing for years / for your older kids and you feel you have done your bit already.
- Maybe some parents just couldn't be arsed
I have been a class rep / class mom for the past few years. This year I am only second in command, which I must say is quite lovely. Every year I say I am not going to do it again, and then every year when the silence after the question "So who is going to volunteer to be class rep this year...?" lasts more than a few excruciating seconds, I volunteer to do it. Because I mostly like it. I like being involved with the school, I like knowing what is going on, and mostly I love being at the cake sale and sports day so that I can see my kids. They LOVE it when their mom works at the stall because we get to have an extra hug plus hopefully a few extra sweets as well. I do realize how very, very fortunate I am to be able to do this. I don't take it for granted.
The most frustrating thing about being a class rep is trying to get the other parents' involvement. I understand that many parents work full time out of the home, that isn't an issue, but what is so disheartening is how some people just don't bother responding to any of your emails. You will send out an email asking for ideas for something, and three people respond. You ask who would like to contribute towards the teacher's gift, only a handful of people reply (even if it is just to say 'no thanks'). I get that people are busy, I get that people might not have the time or money to help out, but surely it doesn't cost anything to reply to an email? It can get quite frustrating, but I have learnt not to let it get me down. I just carry on regardless. Luckily I have a thick hide when it comes to that sort of thing.
Last week I worked at the school for two mornings from 7:15 - 8:30'ish selling tickets to the Big Walk and then another two mornings for an hour covering books. I think around 80 parents were asked whether they could help out. Around 5 people agreed to help. The same mom had to work every morning for a week because no one else volunteered to help her. I don't know, that just doesn't sound right. Look, I don't mind doing it at all - I like helping out, a lot. I am in the fortunate position that I am able to do this sort of thing. I just wondered why so few others do. The class reps said she sent out an email to 20 parents. No one even replied to her email.
I must say though - the response from the younger grade parents is usually quite good when it comes to this sort of thing. Many more offers of help. So maybe parents just get tired of being asked for their time, money and input over the years? Or maybe older kids don't want their parents at the cake sale? Or maybe class reps are just a giant PITA. Oh I don't know.
So here are my responses to some of the reasons why some parents might not get involved:
- Many parents work full day: My response: I understand completely. Perhaps you could help out by sharing ideas, responding to the email, or perhaps doing a Saturday morning at the hot dog stand?
- Maybe some parents believe that the school should be doing this and not asking the parents to do it. My response: I get that. But isn't the school's job is to teach? These extra things are usually for our children's benefit.
- Maybe some parents believe that there are enough people already volunteering to help so their help is not needed. My response: It is always a struggle to get enough people to help. Those people that are already helping? They are doing it because they know if they don't, no one will. There are never enough helpers, believe me.
- Maybe you have done the cake sale thing for years / for your older kids and you feel you have done your bit already. My response: I get that. You have earned the right not to have to sell any more damn hot dogs :)
- Maybe some parents just couldn't be arsed. My response: Ok fine, I get that too. Each to their own.
So I guess I am asking you the question - if you don't participate in the extra curricular stuff, why don't you? Have I missed any reasons? What is your opinion on the matter?
PS I do know that schools asking for extra money the whole time is a huge PITA, this is not about that aspect. This is more about participation / involvement / response.
PPS If I could ask for just one thing as a class rep it is this: PLEASE just reply to the emails, even if it is just say 'no thanks', 'can't help' or 'nothing to add'. It feels a whole lot better than just getting radio silence.