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August 16, 2013

12 Tasks for Classroom Volunteers

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Tasks for Classroom Volunteers

Tasks for Classroom Volunteers

Parent or community helpers can be a great asset to a teacher and her classroom by taking away some of the burden of the busy work that needs to be done.  In order to fully utilize the helpers when they come in to assist, it is important to have specific jobs or tasks already prepared.  Not only does pre-planning help alleviate some of the stress for the teacher, but it also alleviates any anxiety that helpers may have about being in the classroom.

The 12 Classroom Volunteer Tasks that follow are a great way to organize the volunteers’ time, so that they can offer the most help.


Ways Classroom Volunteers Can Help

 1.   Dr. Book – Create a “book hospital” where damaged classroom library books can be ready and waiting for a parent volunteer.  A roll of clear packaging tape, scissors, and a roll of Scotch tape are all of the tools the volunteer will need to fix those books right up.


 2.  King or Queen Copier – Copying can be one of the most tedious tasks for any teacher.  Create a separate basket where you place your “To Be Copied” originals that have a small sticky note attached with the number of copies needed.  Volunteers can then take the entire basket to the copy room and have your papers done in no time.


3.  Lovely Laminators – If volunteers are allowed to laminate at your school, have a basket of materials that need to be laminated at the ready.  Since laminating paper is always at a premium, you may want to train the volunteer on how to arrange items to get the maximum number covered using the smallest amount of film.  If helpers are not allowed to use the school laminator, but you have a small one of your own, consider letting them use that one.


4.  Careful Cutters – Along with copying, cutting out the materials that need to be laminated (or were just laminated!) is a long, tedious task.  Volunteers often do not mind cutting out materials for you, so encourage them to help.  If a volunteer cannot come into the classroom to help out, slip some of the materials that need to be cut out into a “Helper Bag” and send it home with the student.


5.  Book Order Buddies – Book orders are great!  Not only do they encourage your students to read, but book sales really help build up the classroom library when points are redeemed.  Keep the latest book order book of fliers in a book bag and ask volunteers at home to help separate them.  If you have a note that you attach to the fliers, ask them to attach that too.


6.  Class Photographer – Do you have a parent or two who are budding photographers?  Ask them to help you record the special moments of class time and events on a digital camera.  At the end of the school year, these volunteers could then be asked to create a digital slideshow of the year in pictures.


7.  Math Marvel – What is this volunteer’s super power?  Keeping students excitement about math by playing games that reinforce basic math skills.  Parents who are outgoing and enjoy being in the thick of class activities will usually appreciate the opportunity to work directly with a small group.


8.  Super Science Assistants – Science experiments (especially those done by a guest volunteer in a white lab coat!) are always attention-getters in the classroom.  Ask your science-loving volunteers if they would like to be your Super Science Assistants and help out when you have science experiments planned in the classroom.


9.  Guest Readers – Not every volunteer can commit to coming in to help each week, but many want to be involved at least once during the school year.  Ask for volunteers during Parent-Teacher Night to read-aloud to a small group during reading centers.  This gives you a chance to work with your small group, but also keeps the other students engaged.


10.  Pencil Princess/Prince – Sharpened pencils are one of the most wonderful tools of the trade.  Dull and broken ones?  Those leave a lot to be desired.  Ask your volunteer to become the Pencil Princess or Prince and sharpen all of the pencils for you.  This may not be the most exciting job, but it is certainly one that is needed!


11.  Class Caterer – Organizing who gets to bring what during class parties and celebrations can be a nightmare on top of everything else that a teacher has to do.  Ask your wonderful parent volunteers to help with this task by setting up the snack menu for the month and planning parties.


12.  Homework Helper – Sending home packets of homework each week can be a great way to ensure that students practice at home, but they can often be a challenge to get out on time.  Have a volunteer put together the packets and stuff the Take Home Folders with them once a week.  This will be a huge time saver!  *Hint:  Have the Queen Copier make the copies for the homework folders in advance so that they are ready to go for the Homework Helper.


What are some of your favorite jobs for volunteers?  Share your ideas with us below!

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  • Tanya
    February 27, 2017

    For Carolyn,
    Unfortunately you have to use volunteers when they are available if you want to encourage parent volunteers. If they have good instructions like you would give to your students then they could quietly pull the students aside and work with them during whole group just like it happens with things like Resource or Title.
    If there is an issue with parents and office machines, I would suggest that your instructions are the same type you would give to a student, since you do not know the parents abilities or education ensuring instructions are written and precise would elevate any concern with parents having issues. Plus we don’t give up on children who make mistakes, we teach them so why would we not do the same for parents that want to help, additionally maybe we become a teacher for them in some regard, i.e., copiers, laminators. I do understand that time is precious and that so much is expected of teachers today but the benefits of using parents in the classroom is definitely worth the effort.

  • Judith
    February 4, 2014

    wow carolyn you have 35 kids in your class! that is totally rediculous!!! how on earth can you possibly get around to all of them to encourage individual development!? im guessing you must live in usa as class sizes would not be allowed that big in uk!

  • Carolyn
    November 11, 2013

    I have a volunteer who specifically wants to work with the kids. But how do I have her do this when so much is whole group in the morning when she wants to help? I could use someone during our afternoon intervention time but this is not when she’s available. Also, we have a terrible time with volunteers not using office machines correctly or not letting teachers on during their recesses. (or even just not copying the material as noted) And our classes are large (I’m DOWN to 35 right now) so there is little room in the classroom for someone to meet with a few students. Sorry to be so negative, but all my colleagues feel there are so many demands on us right now.

  • Lynn Moore
    November 11, 2013

    Thank you for this great list! Super helpful ideas that I mostly already do. Want to print it to have for the volunteers to see.

  • Betsy
    November 11, 2013

    Great ideas! I found a couple I can use IF I ever have volunteers, as those are not common where I work and the few who try aren’t exactly encouraged or welcomed. Sadly, our copier and laminator are not free to use and not only do we have to make specific requests and buy paper, but the number of copies is monitored. And again sadly, outside food, especially rewards and parties is strictly forbidden, except those put on by the administration. I’ll make the book hospital box and laminator/cutter bag for my middle school buddies. Thanks again!

  • Leslie
    November 11, 2013

    I have a parent come in once a week to be game leader. During Daily 5 they work a table of reading games. It has been a big hit!

  • Heather
    August 16, 2013

    I don’t have a cute title, but I’ve used a parent volunteer seamstress for book bags, pillows, mats, and such for a couple of years. It was wonderful!

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