Our first official year of school was not without its drama. As the first kindergarten class to come back to school in person post-Covid, it was natural most parents were feeling nervous about things. Starting kindergarten comes with all sorts of new feelings for both parents and kids and beginning in 2021 felt like we were maxing out on nerves and high emotions. Add to that our teacher took a leave of absence mid-year and it was definitely a lot to navigate. The one saving grace of the year were the two women who signed up to be class parent. These two moms stepped up and guided our class through some murky situations. They did it with grace and kindness and brought a group of parents together in a way that we are all still close.
So when first grade came around and they asked parents if anyone wanted to volunteer for class parent, I gladly raised my hand. After the example our kindergarten class parents set, I thought this is going to be a breeze and I really wanted to give back to our school community in the same way they had done for us in that stressful first year.
What does a class parent do you might ask? Class parent is a parent volunteer who is dedicated to being a communication bridge between the class and the teacher and the school. This involves a lot of tasks. The class parent typically will set up a form of group communication for updates (text group, email chain, or blog), organize family events for parents to get to know each other outside of school, attend PTA meetings, and report back to the broader group, communicate about school events and ask for volunteers, and collect donations for class gifts. Sounds like a lot? It is!
While my experience being class parent was incredibly rewarding, there are a few things I wish I had known before I signed up. Both good and bad. Here’s what to expect if you are considering volunteering for class parent.
The Pros and Cons of Being Class Parent
You Will Hopefully Not Be Doing It Alone
Luckily class parent is a job that is always done in pairs in our school, so the whole job wasn’t all on me. I didn’t have any idea of where to start and my co-class parent had previously done the gig so it was incredibly helpful to have that experience. If you are considering going for the job my number one suggestion is to find yourself a class parent partner that you can count on, mine was a total MVP!
You’ll Get to Know All the Other Parents
One of the top pros for me was getting to know all of the parents in the classroom. I often heard from other parents in the class and friends at school that they didn’t get to know any of the other parents. Being a class parent forces you to go out of your way to know which kid belongs with which parent and to get comfortable being in contact with everyone. For an introvert like me, it was really important, otherwise, I would have sat in the shadows too shy to introduce myself without a “real reason.”
You’ll Have a Direct Line to the Teacher as Class Parent
The way our school works, the teachers tend to communicate things through the class parents. By the second month of school, I had gotten comfortable regularly exchanging emails with our teacher—ones that did not have to do with my son’s work or behavior. By the end of the year, we felt like we had created a great team with the teacher.
You’ll Be Asking People for Money and Participation, All Year Round
This was the most challenging part of the class parent job for me. I am the kind of person who hates to ask anyone for even the smallest favor. Having to email or Whatsapp a group of 20-plus parents asking for donations towards a class gift, or donations towards a class picnic, or for their child to draw a picture for a special project, was painful to me. But it was also a muscle I needed to flex and by the end of the year, I started to feel pretty comfortable being that person who is chasing you down asking for your kid to sign the teacher’s gift.
It’s A Lot of Communication
The first order of business for any class parent is to set up a chain of communication. For us, it was a Whatsapp group, for others a shared google doc or email group. Find the method of communication that the majority of people in the class are comfortable with and get that set up ASAP. And make sure you’re including everyone. Establish a regular cadence of communication early on so that the other parents can know when to expect to hear from you—like a Friday update or Monday morning email. Also, get in the habit of regularly organizing outside-of-school get-togethers, it helps to get to know each other in person so that when the texts from you come they have a face to go with the request.
If you need to ask people for money or participation in a project, make sure you are giving them plenty of advance notice. This is not a job for people who thrive on that last-minute crunch. You want to make sure all families are included in everything you do.
It Requires a Time Commitment
Mark this one down for something I had not considered. Signing up for this gig means you’ll be the one asking other parents to volunteer for field trip chaperoning, bake sale manning, field day game coordinator, and more. It feels only right that if you’re asking for their time, you’re also giving your time. This was a pressure I definitely felt, especially at the end of the year when events start to mount up. Between the last month of school and trying to navigate work with school schedules, I started to feel incredibly stressed out. Even for the most flexible of workplaces, and if you have other children, the amount of time you’ll feel pressured to give for this role is something to consider.
Your Child Will Be Really Proud
File this under the biggest pro. My son was so excited to see me at school if I was coming in to help with a project, or even helping me orchestrate our end-of-year gift for the teacher. He and the daughter of my co-class parent dubbed themselves the “class kids” and were so proud to be involved in some of the ins and outs of class management. If you think you’re proud of your kid for doing well on a project, you can’t even imagine how heartwarming it is for them to be proud of you for pulling off a great teacher appreciation surprise.