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    By Nancy Moretti, MS 

    Did You Know? 

    Did you know that volunteering can produce health benefits? You may be asking, how is this possible? According to a recent study, volunteers “help themselves to better health while helping others.”1 When you volunteer you feel not only a sense of well-being and purpose, but also increase your physical and social activities. If you volunteer in a school, you are likely to be assisting in raising the academic success of students.

    Most classrooms consist of somewhere around 25 to 30 children with only one teacher. It is often very difficult for a teacher to spend individual time with each student and, unfortunately, some students may not get the extra assistance or support that they need. However, a volunteer can help make a difference! When a teacher has assistance with the day-to-day routines and responsibilities involved in preparing materials, grading papers, and making copies, then she has more time to enhance and refine her curriculum, more time to teach, and more time to give one-on-one attention. 

    How Can You Make a Difference? 

    If you are a parent, grandparent, or student, consider volunteering in your local school system or in a local childcare center.  

    A volunteer can:

    • tutor children that need extra assistance;
    • work with a small group of students;
    • read to students;
    • help students that have been absent in filling in the gaps to catch up;
    • copy, laminate, and file papers;
    • grade objective assignments; and/or
    • assist with lunch or recess. 

    Volunteering shows young children that people care while increasing your feelings of self-worth and improving your health.

    If you work full-time and do not have time to help while school is in session, perhaps you could ask if you could bake a cake for a special occasion, write an article for the school’s monthly newsletter, or assist with a school event. The opportunities are endless, and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you know that you have made a difference.

    Successful Volunteering 

    • Be flexible. It is rare that you will find the perfect fit right away.
    • Keep an open mind—you might discover something new that interests you.
    • Be persistent. Teachers are very busy; don't assume they are not interested in you if they don't contact you right away.
    • Be responsible.
    • Show up on time and follow through with your commitments—teachers and children will be depending on you.
    • Expect to get plenty of personal enjoyment and satisfaction from your volunteer experiences. 2 

    Be Prepared 

    Keep in mind that every state and school is a little different. Some will open their doors with open arms and be excited that you are willing to volunteer. Others will have strict policies and may need you to complete an application, a medical physical, and even a criminal records check and fingerprint screening.

    Summary 

    Call your local school to find out how you can help. Offer to be a class parent, help with a special activity, write a newsletter, or assist in setting up a book fair. It is important to remember that parents, teachers, and students are busy people, but can work together to make a positive difference. 

    Online Resources 

    • 10 Tips for Classroom Volunteers
      Volunteering in your child's classroom can help you keep tabs on what is happening at school and show your child that you think education is important. Following these tips will help make your volunteer time fun for you and helpful to the teacher.

    References: 

    1. Corporation for National and Community Service, “Volunteering Produces Health Benefits,” accessed October 2010.
    2. Federal Citizen Information Center, “Catch the Spirit,” accessed October 2010.

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