Teachers and parents are a collaborative team. From the start, teachers should build a strong communication and rapport with parents. One way to get parents involved and build this relationship is through the creation of opportunities that allow parents, or family volunteers, to volunteer their time in support of the class. Teachers can create an introductory form detailing specific areas where parents can choose to help. Once parents choose areas in which to help, create a calendar schedule for family volunteers. Below are a few helpful ideas for areas where family volunteers may assist. Family volunteers could choose one or all five to support their student’s education.
Parent Volunteer Opportunities
Field trip volunteers are a must! For planning purposes, ask families to volunteer for field trips early in the term. Once the volunteer list is complete, assign each family member to a specific group and make sure they have all the information they need to be successful on the field trip. This might include names of each child in their group, the bus number, a map of the place you are going, when and where to meet for lunch and boarding buses, your contact phone number, and any other emergency numbers.
Family members might want to volunteer to help with a learning center during the class day. Within the introductory volunteer form, you might include a list of centers where a parent might want to provide support. The teacher should not choose a center where anything needs to be taught. Instead, a center where students are working toward independence or general exploration would be more appropriate. For example, the teacher might include centers that involve: reading a book, making puppets, cutting and pasting, exploring blocks, playing a game, etc. Once the parent has shown an interest in a center, then the teacher should meet with the parent to review specific instructions and expectations during center oversight. The teacher might also model some interactive approaches for the parent during this time.
Every month classroom bulletin boards must be decorated with student work; and can be a great and easy way for families involved in the school and class culture. Family volunteers can help with creating a bulletin board by offering creative theme ideas. Volunteers can cut the background paper, staple it on the board, and add a border. They can also cut specific templates, letters for the bulletin board, and add students’ work to enhance the content of the board.
Arts and Crafts
Whether it involves gluing, painting, cutting, or building, a teacher always needs extra hands . For these type of projects, make sure to model specific tasks that volunteers will be performing, as well as include specific written instructions for reference. For example, if a parent is volunteering to help with gingerbread houses, then the teacher should model and have in writing directions about the best way to hold up graham crackers and apply the frosting. An initial period of orientation can make the difference between a more and less successful project.
Teachers have an endless amount of photocopying, organizing, laminating, cutting and other preparative tasks need to be accomplished on a weekly basis. Volunteers that help in this area allow the teacher to focus on lesson planning. Family volunteers can visit throughout the week to make copies for following weeks. They can also organize flyers or school newsletters into student cubbies or take home folders. Finally, volunteers can laminate and cut anything that needs to be prepared for upcoming projects. Really, any way in which family volunteers assist with class preparation is a great benefit to teachers.
Get families involved through volunteering at school and on field trips by sending home a form that lists a varieties of ways families can volunteer their time. Stay organized by creating a calendar or schedule for family volunteers. Always provide information to each volunteer on what their task will be for the time they are volunteering. What ways can you have families volunteer their time?