What is her day going to be like? Will she like her teacher? Will she learn well here? What if she doesn't make friends? What if she gets bullied? Question after question. But the biggest question was, what do I do now for her? What is my role? How can I be the most effective helper to her and her learning?
It took me awhile to get the nerve up to ask about PTA. I think I felt like most parents feel when they do know a lot about PTA. I assumed the stigmas and the gossip was true.
But when I asked about the PTA and was told they didn't have one and that I should run it, I learned pretty quickly what the real PTA is.
So I'm gonna share with you some things I learned that might help you see PTA in a different light.
1. PTA is not just for Moms
One of the biggest stigmas about PTA is that it is just for moms. A little known fact is that community members, politicians, grandparents, friends, business owners and ANYONE can join PTA. Who in their right mind would openly say they do not want to support children. Being a PTA member does exactly that.
2. Working Moms and Dads can volunteer in PTA!
Do you think that only Stay at home moms can volunteer in the PTA? Nope! Some of my best volunteers are working parents. Because they have a clear defined time frame and idea of what they can do and what they can't. I think in America we have an issue supporting and especially committing to volunteer for fear of being asked to over commit. There is some thing you can do in the PTA that will work with your schedule. I promise! It might take a few tries to get you in the right groove of where you should be, but keep trying. The best way to find your spot is to be open and honest with them. Tell them what your schedule and time frame is and more importantly, what you like to do. Then work with them on what works best for you. I promise they need you, even if they haven't figured out how just yet.
3. PTA is not only a fundraising organization
It is easy to see from the outside that PTA just wants your money to buy snacks and fun things for the kids. Part of that is true. But we do so much more! We provide supplies and much needed equipment for the school. Library books and reading incentives. We also bring in Training and special speakers who help educate our teachers and students on important information. Also we provide a little respite for teachers on those really hard days. By selling those t shirts and popcorn you are doing more than getting stuff. You are investing in our students education. Also, local PTA's provide a voice for all students.
4. PTA is not only effective in our school.
Ohh no! When you become a PTA member, you are indeed a big part of your local school. But, you also are a part of a state and national program that advocates for every child. Check out www.pta.org for more information on how they/we advocate for children everywhere.
5.PTA volunteering isn't all popcorn and pizza parties.
Unfortunately, there is a hard side to this job. Like all non profits, we have business stuff to do. Like paperwork, and dealing with the IRS. There is meetings to attend and important topics to debate. There is advertising and PR to handle. And of course there are long days of popping popcorn and sitting at tables talking to people and answering questions. But me and my team and almost anyone who has been in the trenches of volunteer work, can tell you that the benefits outweigh the long days. I wouldn't trade it.
6. You have no idea what's going on in your school until you are there on a consistent basis.
I don't care if you have been a parent of a student in a certain school for many years. Unless you are in that school on a daily or weekly basis, you aren't going to know what that school's struggles and victories are. Every school has weaknesses that need to be worked on and every school has triumphs that need to be celebrated. PTA gives you an opportunity to be involved in some of the school's behind the scene issues and lets us work together to come up with solutions.
7. If you aren't volunteering, you have no right to complain about something.
No one likes a complainer. Yet it seems that the biggest complainers are ones that won't lift a finger to change it. PTA is full of many people doing their part to improve communication between the parents and teachers and they are also working with the staff to fix issues on a daily basis. We are game changers, not complainers!!!
8. PTA volunteers don't want accolades.
Many people who are part of the PTA are extremely humble people. These are people who are passionate about what they are doing. Passionate about protecting children, and education. We do love thank yous like anyone does. But if you are handing accolades out, we would much rather you show your love to the teachers and staff of your school. And speaking of handing out accolades, we strongly feel the thank yous should also be bestowed on our spouses and family and even friends that take care of our children so we can be involved in the PTA. My hubby himself deserves a big old trophy for all the times he has rescued me in a bind with the kiddos, or for all the times he has fixed dinners so I can be involved in another meeting. I'm so grateful for him and all the other spouses and children that sacrifice time with mommy/daddy so they can volunteer at the school.
9. Teachers have hard days!!!
I know this sounds silly. We all know this. But have you ever wondered what your teacher is going through? What they need in the classroom? How hard their classroom dynamic is? It's been my experience this year that most teachers aren't going to ask for help very often because they are used to being told no or getting excuses. So if you want to make a difference in your classroom, you are gonna need to ask and keep asking. Here are some things that many teachers need help with:
Reading or practicing sight words
Preparing snack or crafts
Helping with special projects
Field trip sponsors
Lunch time or recess monitors
10. You an help with a baby on your hip.
I was so afraid to come to school with my little one, afraid that he would interupt classes and be a big disturbance. Granted he has done some of that, but it has been amazing to watch the teachers, staff and especially students interacting with my little guy. He has made so many friends at that school and most of them being teachers. It really boosted his self esteem and ego. He kind of thinks he runs the school, but what two year old doesn't think they are in charge?
So please do me a favor! If you have children, grandchildren, ever loved a child, join a PTA and donate an hour. Just one, we would be ever so grateful!