An open letter to all the non-volunteering mums and dads

Helping out at school benefits children and parents.
Helping out at school benefits children and parents. Photo: Getty Images

This is an open letter to all the mums and dads in the school yard, kinder grounds, basketball club, netball club, footy club. Anywhere, really, that requires some sort of organisation that you and your children frequent.

This is from all the volunteers that help make your child's sport, kinder program, and school community great.

I ask just one thing of you. Please stop being so apathetic.

I assume that you enjoy being part of a community, and that your child also enjoys it too. If all the people who volunteer within these communities were to walk away, the community would disintegrate and your child would be left asking: who is going to coach me now? Who is going to organise our school or sport uniforms? Who is going to help the teachers on excursion days? Who is going to score the game? Who is going to run the school fete? Who is going to work at the working bee?

Indeed, WHO?

And you, dear parent, will be left standing there with no answer to your child's questions.

So think about what you would do, if that were to happen. If you think you might put your hand up to help out so the community doesn't fall apart, why don't you do that now? Why wait for that to happen? Offer to score at the game. Offer to the cover the uniform shop every now and then. Offer to run a training session to give the coach a break.

I get it: you have to work. You have other kids to look after. Well, guess what? So do we. We work, we have other children (sometimes more children than you do!), and we have homes to run. Our to-do lists are also suffocating us.

But we are still here giving our time, investing in your children.

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I'm pretty sure you care about your child's success, and you want them to have a positive experience of life both at school and in their extracurricular activities. But did you know that you can improve that experience for them, and you don't even have to do that much?

Here are a few of the benefits to getting involved with your child's community:

Benefits for kids

•   If you're involved in some way at the school, research shows that your child will do better regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or your level of education level - just being present will improve things for your child.

•   Their results will improve.

•   They'll have better self-esteem and motivation if you're involved.

•   If it's team sport, they'll be more engaged and committed to the team if you're part of it.

•   Their feelings of safety and security will improve knowing that you are close by.

Benefits for parents

•   You'll be able to better engage with your child because you'll have a clearer understanding of what is happening in their life.

•   You'll be more confident in your parenting, because you'll know your child better.

•   You'll make your child proud - they love having you there.

•   You'll be showing others that you think their kid is worth it, not just yours.

•   You'll get to experience what true community is about - meeting new people and making new friends.

•   You'll also get to know your child's friends - invaluable once you hit the tougher older years.

•   You'll have more control over shaping your child's responses to set backs - modelling positive behaviour is the key.

There are so many benefits to being involved, and I'm just not sure why it's always the same people putting their hands up. Just because your partner volunteers or helps out doesn't mean that you shouldn't, and simply paying the fees isn't enough anymore. Being part of a community means everyone gets involved.

Sadly, 'volunteer fatigue' is a thing. If everyone decided to get involved and just do a little bit, there would be no such thing as volunteer fatigue.

So to all the non-volunteers, we are asking you to step up: step up for us (we're tired already!) and step up for your community, but mostly step up for your children. They are the ones that benefit most from your involvement.

Yours faithfully,

All the Regular Volunteers

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