When you're asked to volunteer in your child's classroom this year, seize the opportunity! Not only does your child's teacher really need your help, volunteering in the classroom shows your children that you value their education. According to recent research cited by the Parent Teacher Association, parental engagement in a child’s education increases student achievement, improves attendance and reduces the dropout rate.
How do you make the most out of your classroom experience? Seasoned teachers androom moms share these suggestions to make classroom volunteering fun and truly helpful for everyone -- the teacher, the kids, and you!
10 Smart Tips for Parent Classroom Volunteers
1. Volunteer for something you already find fun or interesting. If you can’t stand messes, stay away from art day; maybe instead you'll enjoy organizing student cubbies or weekly folders. If you like the quiet zen of reading, offer to be a reading buddy, notthe recess helper.
2. If you can't make it, call, text, or email. Alert the teacher right away if you can’t make it, and try to find a substitute yourself.
3. Don’t be late. Show up in the classroom when scheduled, your teacher is counting on you. Be sure to leave plenty of time for parking and to pick up a visitor’s pass.
4. Leave your cell phone in the car. Volunteer time isn’t social time. There’s nothing worse than a parent’s cell phone dinging every 5 seconds when they are supposed to be reading Cat in the Hat.
5. Honor the lesson plan. Your child’s teacher spends a lot of time organizing the day’s activities. It’s her gig, her way – ask for direction and then follow through.
6. Help ALL kids. Remember to be inclusive and support all kids in the classroom, not just your own son or daughter or the kids you know.
7. BURP: Be Understanding, Responsible & Positive. A bright smile and a heaping dose of praise goes a long way in a classroom full of 7 year olds! Refer discipline issues to the teacher and reinforce classroom behavior expectations.
8. Respect student privacy. Special needs, grades and performance are private and must be confidential. You wouldn’t want another parent talking about your child, so please keep your thoughts (and judgments) to yourself.
9. Follow school guidelines. Background checks are required in some districts and others have rules prohibiting younger siblings in the classroom. Take the time to ask your teacher what’s required before you volunteer.
10. Have fun! Enjoy this special time with your children. Soon enough your kids won’t want you helping in their class at all!
About the Author
Karen Bantuveris is the founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot --free online signup sheets save time and make it easy to organize parents to help for just about anything: classroom helpers, snack schedules, carnivals, library volunteers, parent-teacher conferences and more. Karen lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter.