It takes a village to raise a child, or so the saying goes. The same can be said for building and sustaining schools that excite and enrich young students. Creating learning environments where our next generation of leaders develop the skills they’ll need to make positive change in our world requires a whole community of people — teachers, administrators, students, parents and community members — pitching in both time and resources.
Don’t get stuck in an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to helping out: even small actions can make an impact. Take a bit of inspiration from the list below for some creative ways to do your part as a villager. The start of a new school year is the perfect opportunity to think about how you can help.
A is for Advocate
Take a stand for your local school by sharing information and voicing your opinion — be it writing a letter to legislators, going to school board meetings or helping arrange for a political leader (mayor, city council, member of Congress) to visit the school.
B is for Books, Binders and Backpacks
Schools are often short on supplies, in fact 91% of teachers have spent their own money on supplies and 49% have helped a student get new clothing or footwear. One simple way to give back? Buy school supplies from brands that give a portion of the profits back to schools or those that match your purchase with a donated item.
C is for Classroom Helper
Larger classroom sizes and higher student-teacher ratios can make it difficult for teachers to provide one-on-one attention. Spending a few hours a week in a classroom can alleviate some of the pressure and offer extra attention to a child that needs it.
D is for Donate
Monetary donations are a great way to give schools the ability to fix pressing issues that their budgets might now fully cover. You can donate directly to a local school or give your dollars to programs like Teach For America (TFA).
E is for Entertainment and F is for Fundraiser
If you love to plan events (big or small), consider putting your talents to work by planning a fundraiser for your local school. Host a small bake sale, coordinate a talent show or throw a fabulous gala, just be sure to let your creativity shine!
G is for Garden
Help start a school garden to teach kids where their food comes from, inspire healthy eating, and teach them about the environment. It could even inspire teachers to incorporate garden-centric biology lessons.
H is for Homework Help
Volunteer your time and connect with kids one-on-one by reading to kids in classrooms or tutoring students after school. For many children need a little extra time and attention can make a big impact.
I is for Internship
For high school students, consider creating an internship at your place of work. Remember to have patience and create an opportunity of value for the students. This can be a valuable learning experience for both the student and your colleagues who might benefit from the exuberance of a young student!
J is for Jeans and K is for Khakis
Having seasonally appropriate clothing that fits is important for students to be confident and comfortable in their learning environment. Hold a clothing drive and donate the items collected to a local school, shelter or Goodwill.
L is for Library Books
Chances are there’s a school library somewhere near you that’s crying out for a little organization. A few hours of organizing and alphabetizing will make a huge difference.
M is for Marketing
If you have writing or design skills, volunteer your services to a local school administrator. It’s likely they could use help creating flyers for school events, writing newsletters or keeping information up-to-date on their website.
N is for Nourishment
Love to whip up a sweet treat? How about baking your notorious cookie recipe or decorating some delectable cupcakes as a way to show teachers how much their hard work is appreciated.
O is for Overabundance
Do you have a stockpile of construction paper, glue sticks, paint, yarn or other craft goodies and no use for them? Clean out your craft closet and donate your extra supplies to a local classroom or art teacher.
P is for Playground Pick-up
Kids deserve to be proud of their school — inside and out. Help keep the school grounds in tip-top shape by painting walls, weeding, picking up trash, and cleaning windows. This is a great one for grown-ups and kids to work on together.
Q is for Quiet Time
You might feel like adding another activity (like volunteering at a local school) to your already-busy schedule is not feasible, but think outside the box. How about putting your Netflix binge-watching couch time to a productive, non-stressful use by stuffing envelopes or typing up meeting minutes from the PTA meeting?
R is for Rewards
Take advantage of school donation programs like Box Tops for Education, which donates 10 cents per box top. If you work in an office, set up a place to collect and you’ll be surprised how quickly the rewards add up.
S is for Shadow, T is for Tour
Finding the right career can be a tough decision, especially when you haven’t been exposed to the possibilities. Volunteer to have a student shadow you for a day so they can see what it’s really like to be a merchant, marketer, supply chain executive, shoe designer, etc. Have a unique job or workplace? Consider inviting local schools on a field trip to come take a look. This can mean a trip to the office, recycling plant, or museum — find a fun angle to explain your job and the kids will be enthusiastic visitors.
U is for Unburden, V is for Volunteer
Whether you sign up for a big job like a PTA officer or simply offer to type up the occasional email about an upcoming meeting, become a volunteer in whatever capacity you’re able. At a loss for how to help a local school? How about thinking about ways to take the edge off someone else who’s doing more than their fair share.
W is for Water Ambassador
Attend a workshop from an organization like Project WET and learn how to teach a curriculum that can help students learn about important topics such as water conservation. After a short session, you’ll have everything you need to teach a lesson at a classroom near you.
X is for Xylophone
You dreamed of being the world’s next xylophone (or saxophone or guitar) sensation, but now your beloved instrument is collecting dust. Consider giving your old instrument a new life — and a chance at musical greatness — by donating it to your local school.
Y is for Your Advice
Lend your expertise by serving on an advisory or decision-making committee like the PTA or a parent organization.
Z is for Zumba
Love to dance, knit, or play ultimate frisbee? Afterschool programs are often sorely in need of volunteer support. Offering up your skills can come in all shapes and sizes, from coaching a sports team to directing a play, teaching computer coding to building furniture.