In my previous post I considered why I would want to volunteer my time in a school during days when I am not contracted to teach but caring for my child. I did approach one school in my area but instead I was offered the opportunity to support a local charity one afternoon per week so some of the ideas below are more speculative than concrete opportunities I was offered. If you are a senior leader in a school and have further thoughts on what might be possible please do comment below.
The one school manager I did contact was positive about the possibility of being involved in their after-school programme (in a primary school). I was pleased to hear that having a baby or needn’t be a barrier to me caring for children for an hour or two at the end of the school day. This could involve facilitating unstructured play activities or supporting children with assigned homework. For some schools they are trying to deliberately design after-school care to be less-formal than the school day for the benefit of children, but still using the school facilities. Bringing your own child can enhance the experience for these children and also help it feel like a more human and less institutional environment.
Breakfast clubs are another possibility. My child is reliably up at 7am every day, and when I have to go to work we are used to getting out the door on a schedule. School staff don’t always have the capacity for additional duties at the beginning of the day – but teachers and school leaders both recognise the importance of children having the opportunity to eat and being greeted positively so they can start the day well. Again your own child is a novelty and could perhaps bring a smile to a child whose morning otherwise started not so positively.
Having previously worked in a secondary school with an excellent Homework Support Club, I recognise the value of this within schools. I previously had a slot on a rota for this as a Head of Department, and it took place every afternoon from 3-4pm with a list of students who had work outstanding and had a prior agreement to attend regularly. It was not always easy at the end of a teaching day, but I saw what it offered for children who needed it. Having a supervised space that facilitates studying, but also encourages children to be independent is important, increasingly as young people move towards KS4 and KS5. This one might be more appropriate if you can be confident your child can be entertained and settled easily and not distracting.
Some of these will clearly be far more effective if you already work within a school – you have the existing relationships with students and staff, and a knowledge of the systems and structures. In addition your existing credibility as a staff member may make it more likely that you could bring your own child if this is a novel idea. Otherwise it could be possible to support (or even initiate) such ideas in a local school if they are open, leading to a whole new professional experience.
If you have further ideas beyond the three above it would be great to hear from you. Maybe some local qualified teaching professionals with their children are exactly what you need for a new school initiative to avoid over-burdening your staff.
Claire Schnellmann is a part-time primary teacher with an 11 month daughter. She blogs regularly for MTPT Project about the benefits of voluntary opportunities as a CPD opportunity during maternity leave and when taking time out of work to care for children. She also writes about roles and opportunities which parents can take up with their children at https://contributingwithchildren.wordpress.com/