When parents are involved in their child’s school, children benefit. We all know this, yet very few classrooms have parent volunteers. It’s true, today’s parents are busier than ever, but many parents are eager to get involved in their child’s classroom. They just don’t know how.
A recent article in Early Childhood News turns the table on the parent volunteer concept a little bit and emphasizes how much parent volunteers can help teachers:
Parental involvement through volunteer contributions, either physical or material, can lighten the teacher’s load significantly. And when the teacher has the support of the parents, she finds “her children” come to school better rested and with assignments completed.
The article goes on to lay out a strategy and tips for recruiting volunteers:
Step 1- Extend an invitation- let parents know how important classroom volunteers are. Assure them they are knowledgeable, their time is valued and their participation (at any level) will help the entire class. Give parents an easy way to let you know they are interested.
Step 2- Give parents ideas of some of the many ways they can help out, including:
- Working with students (giving additional support to individuals, leading small groups, chaperoning field trips, reading to the class, leading games, helping at a party, etc.)
- Working with the teacher (making copies, putting together packets, displaying student artwork or projects, collecting recyclables for projects, planning special events, proofing the newsletter, etc.)
- Other- get creative! Some parents might have special expertise to share. A volunteer firefighter parent could come speak with the kids, a handy parent could help put together a bookshelf or fix a sink, an organized parent could help organize your classroom, parents with many social connections can help you find donations or community resources to fit your needs)
Step 3- Treat parents like serious volunteers- set expectations, orient them to the school if necessary and give parents the information theyneed to get the job done.
Step 4- Get feedback- touch base with your parent volunteers periodically. Thank them often and ask them how things are going. Get suggestions for improving the volunteer experience and use the feedback to improve the volunteer experience in the future.
Teachers are notoriously overworked, and to many, the idea of bringing in parent volunteers can seem like one more burden. But parent volunteers can really ease your workload, as well as improve the school experience for children. Don’t sell yourself or your classroom short. Try bringing in parent volunteers!