Parent Volunteers In The Classroom
How to Be a Good Parent Volunteer at Your Child's School
Being involved in your child's education can help promote learning and has been shown to lead to greater academic achievement. However, being a good parent volunteer isn't always straightforward. Becoming a good volunteer includes being present and involved in your child's learning and wanting to help promote the success amongst all the students in the school. By attending events and helping support faculty and staff, you can become more involved in your child's life and help encourage students to become more successful.
Finding Volunteer Opportunities
Take opportunities to become a chaperone for school trips.Attending a school trip with your child is a great way to spend a lot of time with their classmates and teachers. Usually, students will be given notice that chaperones are required for an upcoming field trip and need parent volunteers. Take these opportunities when they become available. If you want to be more proactive with your approach, you can call the school's office and ask if there are any upcoming school trips that you can chaperone.
- Understand that being a chaperone means setting and enforcing limits on children for their own safety.
- Remember not to get too distracted by your own child; as a chaperone, you should focus on caring for all the children you are charged with supervising.
- Ask the staff and faculty what they need help with the most.
Attend all parent association meetings for your child's school.Your school may have a parent-teacher association that helps parent and teacher connections and helps drive initiatives inside of the school. Becoming a member of your local PTA will give you additional resources and insight into the operations at your child's school. To find your local PTA, look at the National PTA's website.
- Some parent-teacher associations have elected positions. If you are interested in a position, reach out to the PTA board for more information.
- If you are having issues finding your local parent-teacher association, give your school a call or send an email to the National PTA at .
Help out in your child's classroom.A great opportunity to get connected is to volunteer as a classroom helper. While classroom assistant jobs are often labor intensive paid positions, there may be opportunities to volunteer to help younger kids work on developing on their foundations, such as reading and writing.
- Check the school's policies and call them to see if there are any volunteer opportunities to become a classroom helper.
Attend in-school events.Events like book fairs, family fun nights, or festivals held at the school during school hours can use more volunteers to help set up and manage the event.Contact the school or speak to the teachers who are organizing the event to see where you can lend your assistance.
- Other opportunities to help organized sports team or a specific club may also arise.
- When you call, you can say something like "My son Trevor told me that there's a book fair coming up in February. I was wondering if you'd need any parent volunteers or if you could connect me to the right person to speak to."
- In some cases, you may be able to support school events at home. For instance, you can make posters for a school-sponsored trivia night.
Improving your Volunteer Skills
Interact with children of different ages.Interacting with children from a wide range of age groups will give you increased versatility when volunteering. Skills managing and helping younger children don't always translate to teens.Your goal as a volunteer is to get your kids involved and participating as a group.
- Young children have more energy and are more inquisitive than teens or pre-teens tend to be.
Forge a good relationship with staff and teachers.Becoming a better parent volunteer involves becoming more connected with your child's school and what they are doing. If teachers or staff have an open-door policy, make sure to utilize it.Communicate with teachers and determine places that they may need help. You may hear of opportunities to volunteer first, and you can also make your own recommendations on how to improve your child's education.
- Talk to staff at events and see what they need help with the most.
- You can say something like "Hey, what do you need help with the most right now? I'm trying to be as helpful as possible, just let me know where to go and what to do."
Be timely and reliable.Timeliness and reliability are important factors in being a good volunteer. Pledging your time and effort and then pulling out at the last second could leave a trip with not enough parent chaperones or create a problem for an event. Don't underestimate your other responsibilities in your life. Make an accurate estimate of the time that you can invest before offering your help.
Communicate with other volunteers.Often volunteer opportunities will mean working on a team comprised of other parent volunteers. To better meet the goals of your volunteer time, make sure to talk to and work with the other volunteers in the group. Working on a cohesive team will make doing things easier and faster.
- Make sure to designate required roles with other volunteers and to fulfill your own responsibilities.
Get other parents to become volunteers.Speak with other parents outside of school events and encourage them to help at the school. Talk to them about the need for help for certain organizations or classes, and explain the difficulties the students have due to a lack of volunteers. Try to convince other parents on the positive benefit that volunteering has on their children's education.
- You can say something like, "I volunteered at the middle school and it was a great time. They really need help over there, and I saw that it actually made an impact on my son's education."
Maintain a positive and encouraging attitude.Your attitude should always be good to both the students that you're helping as well as the staff and teachers that are instructing them. Keeping an upbeat and positive attitude will contribute to maintaining positive morale for the kids and will make events and education more fun.
- If you like working with kids, show it, and allow your enthusiasm to shine through.
Making the Time to Volunteer
Offer help during times that fit your schedule.If you have a busy work schedule and can't accommodate the time that you can, make sure to take every opportunity to volunteer on your free time. This can include less structured volunteer help such as printing out flyers, sending emails, or helping your children with school projects can take the pressure off another overworked parent volunteer.
- You can also bake or cook food for school events if you can find the extra time.
Use a vacation day to attend an event.If you have a busy work schedule and miss events and fundraisers at your child's school, make sure to take a break from work and dedicate a day during the year towards your child. Talk to your kid about an upcoming event that they need your help with, and talk to your supervisor at work about taking off to help them for the day.
- If your job already comes with paid-time-off, this is a great opportunity to use a vacation day.
- Ask for your day off at least two weeks in advance.
- You can ask by saying something like, "My kid is having a class trip on December 7th, so I'm requesting off that day so I can help chaperone."
Tutor when you aren't working.Tutoring and mentoring kids is especially important in larger schools with more students because there's a chance they don't get enough one-on-one education. Try to find struggling kids in your children's classroom and invite them over after work and help them with their homework or class projects.
- Some schools have structured tutoring sessions at the school that you can attend.
- Make sure to clear the tutoring session with the children's parents before they come over.
- Overworked teachers will appreciate the extra help that you provide the students.
Assuming More Responsibilities
Leverage your professional background.Think of your professional and educational background and choose a club that you can make the most impact in. For example, if you have a writing background you could help students create a poetry or creative writing club. If you have a finance background, you could think of innovative improvements to school fundraisers. Think of the skills that you have to leverage and use them to make the most impact on students.
- You can call the school and get a list of current programs.
- Talk to your child about starting a school club that doesn't exist by saying something like, "So I noticed your school doesn't have a poetry club. I know you like writing, do you think you'd want to start that up? I can help you."
Assist with extracurricular activities and sports.Drama clubs, civic organizations, hobby clubs, and sports teams are sometimes in need of help due to limited resources and limited time. These activities and sports can hinge on the help of parent volunteers. Get into contact with activity leaders or sports coaches and talk to them about volunteer opportunities.
- Parent volunteers are often needed as chaperones during away games.
- If you have a sports background, you are better suited to helping children on the school's sports team.
Be active in setting school policies and curriculum.In some states and jurisdictions, parent's have a more active role in setting the policies and curriculum within a school.This means having to attend parent-teacher association meetings and being vocal in what you think is best for your children's education. As a parent, you have the right to know what kind of programs and supports are being implemented to help your child and all children within your local school.
- See if you can get an hour-by-hour schedule of what will be discussed in the meetings so that you can create your own input.
- Ask questions as they arise during the meeting.
Video: Parent Volunteer
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