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The Busy Mom's Guide to Volunteering in School

Carlo Stanga

If you're like most moms, you probably wish there were more hours in the day. By the time you take care of your family, your job, and your house, there's not much time left to see your friends, let alone head up a committee to improve something at your kid's school. But giving even a few minutes can go far toward bettering your child's education—as long as you make those minutes count. For easy ways to get involved, we turned to the experts: the 51 mom delegates who won our contest to represent their states and the District of Columbia at Parenting's 2011 Mom Congress (MC) conference last April at Georgetown University in Washington, DC (meet them all and learn about their passions at parenting.com/momcongress), plus the education experts who participated and our Facebook fans. Still need convincing? “Research shows that family involvement leads to higher grades and better social skills and behavior,” says Mary Jo Neil, a former member of the National PTA's board of directors. So...what are you waiting for?

If you've got 5 minutes

CONTACT THE OFFICES OF YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN WASHINGTON, DC, about education issues that concern you. After all, if you have time to vote on American Idol, you have time to make your voice heard to improve education. To reach your senators and congressional representatives, visit usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

VISIT THE NATIONAL PTA WEBSITE, pta.org, to subscribe to “PTA Parent,” a free monthly newsletter that will keep you up-to-date with the issues affecting our schools. The site offers a wealth of information along with a variety of ways to get involved with the organization. Need more motivation? If you join the organization (you don't need to join to receive the newsletter), you'll get discounts on products from Sharp Electronics and T-Mobile. Sweet!

JOIN PARENTING'S MOM CONGRESS COMMUNITY Sign up at facebook.com/momcongress. You'll connect with moms across the country who are just as busy as you are but want to help their kids' schools as much, too. “Everyone has something to give; everyone wants to feel needed… and every minute given to the school helps immensely,” says Marni Fennessy, the MC New Hampshire delegate.

E-mail your child's teacher when your little one enjoyed something the class did—or just to tell her that she's doing a great job. Teachers tend to hear from parents only when a child is having problems; letting her know how much you support and appreciate her will help keep your child foremost in her thoughts, too. “I make sure the teacher knows I'm on her side when it comes to education,” says Chamarro Nicole Caldwell on Facebook.

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