There are a ton of ways that VTO benefits employees, especially those who are working parents. When you’re able to volunteer at your child’s school, you’re able to give back to the community that helps you care for them, and support an institution that is notoriously low on resources. Volunteering at your kid’s school also benefits your health and your happiness, which provides huge returns to your employer.
Unfortunately, some VTO programs don’t allow parents to use their time off to volunteer at their children’s schools. Here are 10 reasons why we’d like to put that practice to bed, and why we want to encourage businesses to offer VTO that allows working parents to volunteer in schools.
1. UNDERSTAFFED SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS GET HELP
Public schools are regularly understaffed and underfunded. That may be due to nationwide budget cuts and hiring freezes, leading to larger classroom sizes and overwhelmed teachers, so this is one huge reason why using your VTO to volunteer at your child’s school can be a big help. Volunteering to monitor classrooms, organize activities, liaise between teacher and other parents: all of these tasks can help out overwhelmed teachers and school staff. It also makes the school a safer place, ensuring that kids get the attention and care they deserve.
2. IT’S REWARDING
Studies have shown a link between volunteering and higher satisfaction with life, higher self-esteem, and fewer depressive symptoms. Volunteers are often less socially isolated and have a stronger sense of purpose. The health benefits of volunteering go beyond mental health, too. Volunteering can lower the risk of blood pressure and keep you active as you age. Since volunteer tasks are often physical, volunteers have the chance to get up and move around, which is especially helpful for those who work sedentary office jobs. Quite simply, volunteering is rewarding and makes you feel good. Throw kids into the volunteering mix and you’ll likely be tired but definitely satisfied.
3. PTO CAN BE LEFT ALONE FOR WHEN YOU NEED IT
When you work for a company who sees and understands the benefits of offering VTO, you’re able to use your regular PTO for when you need it — not for those days when you said you’d cover your kid’s big school fundraiser. You can use PTO to stay home with a sick kid, but you can use VTO to make sure you’re involved in their school life. As a parent, you know that the unexpected can often occur at inopportune times. You can use VTO for its intended purpose, and do the same for PTO.
You can use VTO for its intended purpose, and do the same for PTO.
4. YOUR CHILD WILL SEE YOU AS A ROLE MODEL
Volunteering is a selfless act, they say. Though volunteering comes with mental, physical, and emotional benefits for volunteers, that’s not the reason it’s done. People who volunteer give back to a cause or community without expecting anything in return. And that’s a wonderful lesson to impart on your child, as well as other kids at the school. When kids see parents volunteer regularly, they’ll begin to understand that volunteering is a good thing. You might even inspire them to start volunteering themselves.
Note for the businesses out there: you’ll also be setting an example of how business should be done, and your community will take note. This makes it easy to attract top talent, retain your best employees, and get your good name out there.
5. YOU’LL GAIN AN APPRECIATION FOR THE SCHOOL
Running a school is hard work. So is running one classroom with 20 or 30 young children. As a volunteer, you’re able to see how much effort, organization, and resources are required to run things successfully. It’s easy to focus only on what a school can do for your child. When parents volunteer in schools, you’ll get a fresh new perspective and an appreciation for what schools and teachers do. This leads to more support for the people who will have a massive influence on your child’s life — what could be wrong with that?
6. YOU CAN FLEX YOUR OTHER SKILLS
Volunteering at your kid’s school doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be in a classroom monitoring the students. There may be plenty of other volunteer opportunities at a school. If you have sales skills, or you network with other businesses as part of your job, look into becoming involved with fundraisers or special events. Maybe you can contact sponsors and vendors, or coordinate other volunteers. If you love books, perhaps you can volunteer to read to different groups, or help out in the library by reshelving books or recommending reads to students. Into music, art, or physical fitness? Ask if those teachers need assistants for their classes.
This is also the perfect time to put some of your interests into play: learn something new, test your skills, or offer something you’ve never done before. Your employer can benefit from this as well, as you’ll come to the office with renewed interests, new skills, and satisfaction knowing that you are contributing to more than just your daily task list.
7. IT HELPS CREATE HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE
It’s easy to feel that your job is taking up too much of your time and energy, especially as a parent. Volunteering can bust you out of that rut. In fact, a survey found that people who volunteer are happier with their work-life balance. The volunteers were less stressed and less likely to feel burned out at work. Even if volunteering takes up some of your personal time, the feeling of giving back can build a greater sense of work-life balance. Plus, you may get some bonus time with your kid and his or friends, which always gives parents a boost.
8. IT BENEFITS COMPANY CULTURE (AND DECREASES COST)
Company culture is important, so much so that many employees prioritize company culture over pay. If your company already has a VTO program in place, that’s great! However, actually using the VTO is important, too. Your coworkers may be hesitant to take VTO because they’re not sure where to start or they’re not sure if it’s actually okay. When you volunteer, you lead by example. Show your company that you appreciate the VTO you’re given, and coworkers can follow your lead.
You can also be a shining example of how VTO can actually save your company money. Demonstrate how much more productive you are, how much more cohesive and motivated your team is, and how you’re sharing the company’s reputation with parents (other consumers in the community) every time you volunteer.
9. YOU’LL BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR CHILD’S DAILY LIFE
What is school really like for your child? By volunteering, you’ll get to see firsthand what their education is really like. You’ll gain insight into how the school is run, what the classroom culture is like, how your child interacts with other students, and so on. You’ll also have the opportunity to communicate with teachers, administrators, and other parents outside of events or parent-teacher conferences.
10. YOU MAY DISCOVER NEW HOBBIES AND PASSIONS
Volunteering at your child’s school can open you up to new interests, or rediscover old ones. You may find that you really enjoy assisting coaches with games or gym teachers with certain fitness programs. Maybe you enjoyed theater class when you were in school, and helping out with productions rekindled your interest in drama. Or you may find that simply having a hand in children’s education is important to you, whether you’re helping at a career fair, judging science competitions, or tutoring kids.
At the end of the day, VTO is meant to be used.
SUPPORTING SCHOOLS AND VOLUNTEERS
At the end of the day, VTO is meant to be used. For working parents, one of the most fulfilling ways to take advantage of those hours is to volunteer in their child’s school. No matter what volunteer role you take on at your child’s school, you’ll need a way to track your hours and organize your schedule — especially if you’re hoping to change your company’s “no school volunteering” VTO policies. NobleHour can help bridge the gap between a school and its parent volunteers and their employees, making it easy to track, schedule, and report their hours. Plus, schools can set up their own communities and invite other volunteers to join.
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. Our plug ‘n play software connects companies, schools and individuals with nonprofits. Volunteer, measure the good you’re doing, and share it with others. It’s that simple.
With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, the we are dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Staff:
Director of Marketing
Allison is the Director of Marketing for TreeTop Commons, and its products; NobleHour and Collaboratory. A Portland native, Allison volunteers regularly for community nonprofits that support sustainability programs, and at her childrens’ school teaching art literacy.