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The Busy Mom's Guide to Volunteering in School

Carlo Stanga

If you've got a day

CHAPERONE A CLASS FIELD TRIP. It will thrill your child to have you along on a school outing, and you'll get the bonus of extra face time with the teacher and a chance to get acquainted with other parents. Those contacts will prove valuable when you need to enlist the teacher's support or other parents' advice.

GET LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS INVOLVED. Visit local restaurants to ask about establishing student incentive programs. For example, a pizzeria can host a special pizza night for students who read a certain number of books. This type of positive reinforcement helps improve student achievement.

MAKE OVER A SCHOOL FUNDRAISER. Instead of having kids sell unhealthy sweets like candy bars and cookies, look into other options like greeting cards, plants, candles, or ceramics. Or organize a fun run, where kids get people to pledge contributions for distance covered. “We hosted the school's silent auction/dinner fund-raiser at our home,” says one Facebook fan who works full-time. “It was easier for me to do one big thing rather than help out on smaller projects throughout the year.”

Help plant a class or school garden. “Gardens connect kids to the environment and teach nutrition. After you've grown the vegetables, consider offering cooking classes for students to prepare what they've grown,” says Kelly Meyer of the Teaching Garden. To start one at your school, visit takepart.com/teachinggarden.

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