By Teachers, For Teachers
Classroom volunteers can make a world of difference in your classroom, especially in younger grades when you really need the help. Most often parent volunteers are associated with the “crafty tasks” or busy work, but there are so many more ways you can utilize their help than just helping out with a class party. Here are a few ways to make the best use of your parent volunteers.
Ask parent volunteers to sign up to come to learning centers. Assign each volunteer a station to be in charge of. For example, one parent can be in charge of the math station, where the parent reads a math problem to the students, and the students have to color in the correct answer on their worksheet. Another volunteer can be in charge of helping the students practice their spelling words with a fun game. While all of this is going on, you can be conducting your reading groups. This way you can worry less on the students’ behavior and focus more on your reading groups.
Just as you would create a learning center, create a parent portal where parent volunteers can come in and complete their work. When parents enter the classroom, they would know to go to the parent portal, sign in, and look in the three-ring binder to see what tasks need to be completed. For example, they may need to prep for a craft, put together a homework packet, listen to a student read to them, etc. Label each section of the binder and make sure to add all directions and materials for each task. This way parents can complete the work without having to interrupt the class. Here is an example of what your task book may look like:
Parent volunteers are great for providing assistance for individual students to meet specific needs. For example, volunteers can help practice a specific skill a student may be having trouble with, such as math facts, vocabulary words, spelling words, site words, telling time, counting money, reading comprehension, and so on.
A fun way to utilize parent volunteers is to invite them to come into class and be a mystery reader. The parent would write down a few bits of information about them self and about the student they are attached to from the class. The parent would wait outside the door as the teacher reads the clues. Then once the kids figure it out, the volunteer reader comes into the classroom and reads a book they brought to share with the class! The students will love it!
Invite parents to be your classroom assistant. While you are conducting a class science experiment, have the volunteer help with the demonstration. Allow the parent to pull off the experiment, while you explain it. Then utilize their services to assist while students conduct their experiments. Parent volunteers can assist in other presentations as well, such as bullying, school safety, or a presentation on Black History.
As you know teachers have a lot of paperwork. Enlist the help of a parent volunteer to help place book orders, correct homework, make photo copies, file papers, create a bulletin board, etc. This will give you more time to focus on the important stuff like classroom instruction.
Here are a few more interactive ways you can utilize your parent volunteers. They can:
Welcome all parent volunteers with open arms. Be sure to ask them what they would like to do, or give them a few options to choose from. Not all parents are crafty or like to help with math problems. And don’t forget to show your appreciation with a small end of the year party, or a simple thank you card.
How do you utilize parent volunteers in your classroom? Do you use any of the ideas above? Tell us in the comment section below.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. As a trained educational professional, she utilizes her experience to provide content and knowledge to the online community. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.