Volunteering at Your Child’s School

Why volunteer at your child’s school?

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Students are motivated to achieve more when parents, caregivers or other significant adults get involved in their school. Positive effects of parental involvement include:

  • Higher grades, test scores & graduation rates
  • Better attendance
  • Increased motivation & self-esteem

There are many ways to get involved! Consider becoming part of the school community by helping once a week, a few times per year, or by volunteering from home. 

“Volunteering is a way to make a direct contribution to something I care deeply about: education. As I strive to make a positive impact on students, I also gain a sense of community and partnership with teachers and families. Best of all, I get a delightful peek into my children’s day!“ Kaori Tanaka, Thornton Creek Elementary School

How do I find available volunteer opportunities?

  • Think about your availability, skills, and interests.
  • Check your school website, community boards and/or newsletter. 
  • Look for requests from the teacher or check with the librarian.
  • Ask the school office if they need playground monitoring volunteers or a lost & found helper.
  • PTA or an after-school program may also be looking for volunteers – they will have their own but similar volunteer application process.

Examples of volunteer opportunities your school may have available:

Classroom or library help: Read or listen to students read in your native language, organize books, prepare materials, tutoring math, and more!

Time before and between classes: Help for 30-40min during recess, in the lunchroom, or as students arrive in the morning. Your positive presence will brighten students’ day, help them be safe and on their best behavior. 

Events and field trips:  Chaperone an evening event or a field trip, share your country’s cuisine at a school event, or attend career day and tell students about your job, business, or the leadership role you play in the community. 

Lost & found: Offer to organize lost and found items once or twice per month.

Special talents: Schools have many specialized needs. Are you fluent in Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese or Chinese? Can you lend a hand in the learning garden or the robotics club?

Volunteer from home:  Ask the teacher for a project you can work on at home, or offer to help with the school newsletter or event, like Rachel Hart Rios from Ballard High School:

The Rios Family at the senior night football game

“In our high school, there is a lot of encouragement from the principal to the kids about finding a club or a sport to participate in to make this large school feel more like a community. For adults also power in the parent support seems to be mainly in the “niche” ways to get involved. Every group from sports to arts to robotics has a team of incredibly involved families who help support the programs however they can. I’ve been doing publicity for Ballard Performing Arts and for the award-winning Digital Filmmaking Program for the last four years. Occasionally, I have the opportunity to be “hands-on” as a chaperone for band field trips — fall marching band season is one of my favorite times of the year. 

As for whether the kids *want* you involved? They may act like they don’t, but they’re always glad you are and sure notice when you aren’t.” 

Rachel Hart Rios, Ballard High School 

Getting started

We believe that every parent or caretaker should have the opportunity to participate in their student’s education. While we require volunteers related to students to complete the same application process as community volunteers, we make accommodations for SPS families. 

  • Complete an online volunteer application. Once approved, your online application will be active for as long as you volunteer with SPS, even as your children transition to other SPS schools.
  • You may apply to volunteer at any point during the school year. 
  • Volunteer application and other resources.
  • Processing applications take time—please allow at least two weeks.
  • We are building a diverse, inclusive, and culturally competent volunteer program to best serve our students. We encourage people of different cultural, ethnic, educational and national backgrounds to apply to volunteer with us.

If you do not have access to a computer or internet at home, you can try one of the following:

  • Visit your neighborhood library where you can use a computer for up to 90 minutes per day. Find the most convenient library at https://www.spl.org/hours-and-locations.
  • The John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence located at 2445 3rd Avenue South in SoDo has two computers available to community members applying for employment and volunteer opportunities with SPS. You can find them between our Enrollment and Security offices.
  • If your child attends the school where you wish to volunteer, check in with the school office about computer availability. If the school computer lab is not used by students, schools can offer SPS families access to computers to complete their volunteer application.

Please notify school staff if you are experiencing one of the following challenges so we can assist:

South Shore volunteer

Schools can cover background check fees for low-income families using operating or program budgets, or request PTA assistance. Field trip related background check fees can be covered through the trip budget. Volunteer Office can provide a special link for the school-sponsored screens.

For detailed instructions and volunteer application process resources please visit https://www.seattleschools.org/volunteer.

“We show what we value by what we spend our time on. By spending time at their school, I show my children that I value education and theirs in particular.” Harold Baker, South Shore PK-8

Visiting your student in school

If you are not able to volunteer at this time, keep in mind that family members of SPS students can visit their students during lunchtime or observe them in the classroom as guests (unless COVID-19 restrictions are in place). Background checks are not required for family visits as long as the family member is not interacting with other students, stays in areas supervised by SPS staff at all times, and is not interrupting school activities. Please check with your school about additional visiting guidelines.

Coe Elementary parent volunteer

“School is your child’s first community, really, and it is very exciting to be a part of that community with your child. I have loved getting to know the teachers, and other parents and, of course, the kids!”   Janis Hart, Frantz Coe Elementary

Thank You for partnering with us and your generous donations of time and talents!