There are room parents and PTO parents. And I'm neither. I'm in awe, immensely jealous, and a little scared of Super Moms organizing the fundraisers that keep our schools operating and the parties that keep our kids happy. When I learned our school's PTO president works a full-time job outside of the home, I just about died. How does she do it?

Okay, so I'm not the first person to volunteer at the book fair. In fact, I'm likely not even the second. But I'd like to think that in my own behind-the-scenes kind of way I'm contributing to my school's success. Here's how I do it.

Let the Teachers Do Their Job

You know your kids better than anyone — at home. But classroom settings are a different playing field. Teachers took college classes like "Early Childhood Development" and "Developing Lesson Plans" for a reason. They know some fantastic ways to help kids reach that "Ah-hah!" moment.

Don't Confuse Strict With Strychnine

Moms cringed when I told them who my son had for first grade. "Ooooh, I hear she's very strict," they said, horrified. Did she expect good behavior from her students? Yes. Did she remind them of this when they misbehaved? Definitely. Did my son enjoy first grade? Absolutely. So the teacher doesn't give you the warm fuzzies. So what. If your child's succeeding, butt out.

Keep Communication Lines Open

One of the first things I inquire of my kids' teachers is their preferred communication method (phone calls, emails, notes, face-to-face meetings, etc.). I then honor that method when I have a question, concern, or comment to share. When parents and teachers have open communication, everyone wins, especially the kids.

Ask How to Help

Some teachers want parents in the classroom every day. Others cringe at the thought and prefer that parents help by doing administrative tasks at home. Don't assume you know what assistance the teacher needs. Find out on the first day: "What can I do to help you this year?"

Remember, Teachers Are Human, Too

Even the best teachers get overwhelmed and frustrated. Unless there's a pattern, chalk up your kid's comment about Mrs. Smith's tantrum to a bad day. My son said his teacher had been exceptionally grouchy one week: I later found out her mother had been hospitalized. Teachers are human like everyone else.

Find out your teacher's favorite treat (pastries, fruit, coffee, tea), and don't wait until Teacher Appreciation Week to show him or her that you're thankful for the work they do.

I'm grateful for the parents who invest so much time and energy in their children's school, but I know I'm still a fabulous parent even though I don't. And parents, it's not about us anyway. Maybe this realization is the biggest way we can all support our teachers and schools this year.

 

This post was written as part of the I Support My School, MY Way campaign, sponsored by VolunteerSpot.com, a free online sign-up sheet tool for busy parents. No compensation was provided. Enter to win big in the Volunteer Spot Facebook Sweepstakes!