Becoming Part of Your Child’s Classroom

It’s a month into school, and the opportunities to become involved in my daughter’s classrooms are plentiful. There’s lunchroom monitoring, Gala planning, helping with art projects, holiday planning…the possibilities are endless. Anyway, Jessica’s post from last week about the benefits of volunteering coupled with this week’s activities got me thinking about how you can volunteer at your child’s school regarding green education and community service. Here are some suggestions about how to help turn the classroom into an eco-classroom. As we all know, school involvement is crucial to all students, and the rewards for you and your children are immense!

1. Read a book! There’s been a big jump in eco-literature over the past year, and children have not been left out of the trend. We also can’t forget tried and true favorites. My kindergartener’s teacher encourages parents to read to the class, so why not choose a great book about recycling, endangered animals, plants and trees and the like? Our personal favorites include The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle; The Lorax by Dr. Seuss; and 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh. What are some of your favorite green books your kids can share?

2. Host a gardening day – Here in Florida, we do a lot of outdoor planting in winter months, so now is when we start organizing school gardens. The website KidsGardening has a wealth of information about gardening with kids at home or in schools, including planning, fund raising suggestions, indoor and outdoor planning and a comprehensive store to help you get started. They also provide grants for school who need financial assistance and wonderful information regarding the impact that cultivating the earth has on children.

3. Collect recyclable “art supplies” – Art teachers are always looking for magazines, newspapers, fabric or any useable, craftable bits and pieces laying around your house. Volunteer to collect supplies from families and streamline them to the teacher. You’ll be saving materials from landfills (as well as money for the school) to be used by amazingly creative minds – your kids! Who knows, your latest fashion magazine can end up in a middle school masterpiece!

4. Organize a Trike-A-Thon – Ever since my girls saw the St. Jude’s Trike-A-Thon on the TV channel Noggin, they’ve been itching to participate in one! Never mind the event raises money for a worthwhile cause – they just want to ride. Trike-A-Thons are surprisingly easy to organize. Choose a cause, pick a date (ask if your school can participate on the weekend, or set aside time before the end of the school day). If your school can’t supply bikes, make it BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike)! Your kids will get great exercise while pedaling for charity.

5. Set up donation bins – Lining the hallways of my children’s schools are boxes and bins asking for donations of items straight from our home. Right now, we’re already gearing up for Christmas and Chanukah by asking kids to donate gently used stuffed animals they’re willing to part with. There are also canned food bins, a box asking for maternity clothing and one for SolesUnited, the Crocs recycling program. Inquiring about setting up a donation station is most welcome in any school, without asking for money from parents and, of course, benefiting others in your community.

This is an original post for 5 Minutes For Going Green. You can join Stefani in her search for all things green at her blog, teensygreen.

2 Responses to Becoming Part of Your Child’s Classroom
  1. Green Dads
    September 25, 2008 | 10:24 pm

    You could also volunteer to advise an after school environmental or ecology club. Some kids at my sons school have been asking for one and I am considering it.

  2. Johnstone Sikulu Wanjala
    September 30, 2008 | 6:09 am

    Education the only way out of poverty
    If you want to know what lies ahead for any society, look at the quality of its education. For young people, education is a critical factor it prepares individuals, as well as societies, to manage their environment for survival as individuals and communities.
    This was long ago recognized in traditional Africa, where informal education of the youth was compulsory, free and universal. Everyone was taught the customs, practices and value of their people. They were prepared for responsible adulthood and equipped with valuable skills, trades and the cultural philosophy of their society.
    The changing times demand that we give quality education and training to the youth so as to add value to their and our collective life as a society. Government and other player must consciously endeavour to address this basic right and strive to achieve education for all, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals that Kenya is beholden to.
    The idea of universal primary education was first mooted in Kenya in 1973. When marking the 10th anniversary of independence, founding President Jomo Kenyatta declared that primary education would be free from January of the following year. Increasing economic hardship, however, saw the introduction of school fees.
    Thirty odd years later, fresh efforts are made to provide free primary education. Some meaningful steps have been made in this direction, but a lot remains to be done.
    In many parts of the country, the pupil-teacher ratio is still far from satisfactory as it stands at about 1:60, when it should be 1:40. In some schools, there are more than 100 pupils to each teacher.
    This erodes the quality of teaching. In most parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, many children learn under trees or in substandard classrooms.
    The children are exposed to the natural elements and other physical circumstances that make learning difficult. While some children are hungry at school, have no access to proper medical care, no uniforms, no sanitary facilities and suffer from the shortage of teachers, others experience the opposite. Standards should be improved so that all children- irrespective of background and circumstance – get quality education.
    In free primary education, a lot has been done in the provision of textbooks. While there are still many problems to grapple with at the primary school level, more should be done in regard to secondary schools and other post-primary institutions. Poverty and the adverse economic conditions are such that many parents cannot afford to take and retain children in secondary schools even though the institutions spend less than a dollar on each child a day.
    By the United Nations standards, any one who lives on less than a dollar a day lives below the poverty line. It is difficult to imagine how this paltry figure is spread out in schools to cover three meals a day, books, laboratory equipment, new technology, sports facilities and a wide range of co-curricular needs.
    It becomes worse when school fees are raised. Different ways of funding secondary education should be sought. How do we increase chances of more students joining high school and at the same time ensure quality education? How do we make the universal average standards in high school qualitative? How do we tap skills, technology and knowledge acquired in high school?
    These are the questions we must think about and solve to successfully address the question of life beyond universal primary education.
    At the core of the problem is poverty; Our children drop out of school because of poverty. Those in high school learn in sub-human conditions because of poverty. Those who cannot go to secondary school fail to do so because of poverty. High school graduates fail to secure jobs or to proceed to college because of poverty. In Africa, poverty is largely a product of corruption and poor management of public resources.
    The Sima CBO has identified universal primary education and poverty alleviation as two areas to work in with our partners. We recognize that poverty must be addressed over a long period and some of our short-term efforts are only palliative. But we still must play our role as ambassadors of hope and relief, here and now.
    Concerted and collaborative efforts must continually be put in place to expand schools, build new ones and appropriately equip both categories to ensure quality post primary education. Such efforts must also spread to the founding of more post-primary school training institutions.
    Polytechnics that will equip primary school leavers with valuable skills are urgently required. Viable bursary funds that will help deserving children get through high school need to be created and expand, technology also need and such funds should go beyond tokenism.
    Mr. Johnstone Sikulu Wanjala. Spoke at recent meeting on cost-sharing in secondary education in Trans-Nzoia district. Be in touch with the following contacts- P.O.Box 1691, Kitale 30200 Kenya. email address – [email protected] or tel: +254 721 862 923 or +254 733 453 339. more sharing information about Kenya school education.