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Should Volunteering in Your Child’s School be Mandatory?

Monday my kiddos start school. It’s a weekend of anticipation. From my experience as a PTA President, I am gearing up for Back to School Night. The typical plea for volunteers will echo through the gymnasium, adorn every note that first week sent home, and have my children pleading for me to volunteer so they can win the classroom contest.

Tonight there was a heated discussion among several of my friends centered on whether volunteering in your child’s school should be mandatory. As a parent and PTA President, I can see both sides of this debate. On the parent side, I believe firmly that education begins at home and that volunteering at my child’s school allows me to understand the policies and procedures practiced by the staff. I get a feel for the day-to-day routine my child is subject to as well as the opportunity to become better acquainted with the teachers.

On the PTA President side I know one person or a small committee cannot possibly pull off a dynamic year entirely without the generous hours volunteered. I know first hand that events for my family and my child are enabled by the selfless hours committed by parents.

On both sides, I have witnessed the lack of volunteerism. I’ve been the President sweating bullets because the Halloween Carnival was that night and if my Community Kohl’s didn’t show up, it was going to fail because there weren’t enough volunteers. I’ve been in the position where we had a stellar donation for a before-school computer lab, but couldn’t open because we didn’t have even ONE volunteer. I’ve missed out on events important to my children because I had to sit at a table because there was not another volunteer to relieve me.

I also see the perspective that if it is mandated then our children’s education becomes a chore. We get volunteers who are worthless and merely fulfilling an obligation rather than rejoicing at the opportunity to serve our children, our teachers, and our community.

I’d like to open this discussion to you. What are your thoughts? Should it be mandatory to volunteer at your child’s school?


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