How Much School Involvement Is Too Much?

As the school year begins, parents are asked to sign up to become class parents, to help organize bake sales, and even to direct the school play or to edit the school newspaper.

Of course, parent involvement in schools is a good thing. But when does a good thing become too much of a good thing?

The New York Times recently ran a story about volunteering which suggested that parents – especially so called ‘helicopter parents’ – might be overly involved in their children’s education.

“These days, it seems, parents are going back to school along with their children,” writes Bruce Feiler. “Volunteering has become a status symbol of sorts. We’ve gone from ‘Baby on Board’ to ‘Parent Overboard.’”

Feiler reports that the national Parent Teacher Association even has a “14-point plan to increase parental participation in schools.” Not surprisingly, parents who aren’t able to volunteer feel guilty about not doing enough.

My own experience falls mostly into the “helicopter parent” category, although it certainly didn’t feel that way at the time.  Chaperoning school trips, running annual fundraising events, editing the school newspaper, co-chairing the college admissions committee – that and more, and proud of it! Also a little surprised that I was one of the few, and that it was always the same few, whether the work was at the preschool, grade school or high school level.

Certainly, schools could use whatever support they can get. But at what point are the expectations schools place on parents to volunteer too much? Or the expectations parents place on themselves?

Do you volunteer at your child’s school? Do you think there are too many opportunities to volunteer or not enough?