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I am not Volunteering at my Kid’s School – or Should I?


When I first came to the US, I thought parents here just liked to be involved in their kid’s school. But now I know that there are many reasons why the schools need parent support: lack of funding, teacher’s rights and state and federal requirements. As a working mom, I just can’t be part in all of it and be successful in them.

For new arrivals with kids volunteering is of course a great way to meet new people. If you are not careful you can be roped into so many projects, it may feel like a full-time job.

However, after I started working full-time, I decided: I’m not volunteering at my kid’s school! 

Yes, this sounds harsh and I know the “other moms”, who have a 40hr+ big full time job,  two young kids and already enough work to do and still trying to be class mom – but this is not me!

Don’t get me wrong: I am very thankful for all the parents who volunteer, for all the hard working teachers and administrators. They just make every day special for my child and give all the students a happy place to learn and develop.

But I can’t wait for all the emails to stop to ask for help at the next fall festival, take tickets for some kind of movie night, help in the library or at snack and lunch time and much more. And it went even further, asking for one parent in the classroom as much as possible to help the teacher because of discipline issues in my child’s class. Yes I do my part but I’d rather not.

I’m asking to get better funding for our schools. Our schools should hire enough people, to help the teachers in the classroom and supervise events and library or lunch time. I am frustrated, that school ends around 2 o’clock which doesn’t give a full time working parents enough time. This way we also have to hire  childcare. Let me put is this way: our schools don’t give us enough time to work, so we need to pay a babysitter and they still constantly ask us for fundraising?

Don’t get me started with all the days off or half days. I am very fortunate to be able to work from home at times so we can handle those days but what if families don’t have the flexibility or money to pay for extra childcare?

In Germany, most teachers don’t want parents to be around during the school day at all. A few schools call the school building already a “parent free zone” so that children can develop independency.

Sometimes I question though, if I should be involved in my child’s school or not…..

Studies showed that less involvement is better for the parent-child relationship: the school is my child’s territory and work is mine. This is where I am good at and where I belong. And when we get together on the weekend to spend quality time with the family, it is enriched by our independent daily routines. I will not change this and won’t stop hoping to get the resources our school needs, so that everybody can focus on their individual jobs!

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