If you have the opportunity to have parents help out in the classroom during the year, you are lucky and should utilize them. I have taught at schools where parents aren’t involved and ones where they are. Here are some tips to incorporate parent volunteers in your classroom.
1. What helps students the most?
I know that teachers need help with grading, copy, laminating, etc. There are so many tasks that parents can do to expedite curriculum. However, I try to use parents to help where students need them most. I want parents to interact with the students whether it is reading a passage together to running a center. I think parents feel most helpful when they work directly with the students.
2. Parents are helpful with classroom events
I ask parents to come to field trips, classroom events, and special projects where I need extra adults. For example, often a field trip requires a certain amount of adults or my class may be split into groups. I need extra adult supervision and parents can help.
I have parent volunteers help with Book Tastings, Colonial Day, Wax Museum Day, and Art projects. Below is a picture of Colonial Day where a parent ran a small group teaching students how to weave. Meanwhile, I was in the classroom running the schoolhouse.
3. Utilize parents strengths
I have been very fortunate in the last few years to have parents and grandparents teach a lesson to my students. I had a parent talk to students about tracking weather in the Navy when we did a weather unit. Another parent came and talked about the Constitution on Constitution Day. Below is a grandparent, who is a retired science teacher, who came and taught several science concepts during the year.
I never thought of asking parents if they had anything they wanted to share with the class. Now that I have, each year I have several parents volunteer in the class. It is almost like – if you ask, they will come.
4. Schoolwide involvement
There are times for parents to get involved in schoolwide events or fundraisers. At our school, we have PTA events, a Foundation auction, and Jog-a-thon. My favorite yearly activity is Safety Day, where parents from the Fire Dept., police, and Border Patrol visit the school. It is a great event where parents get involved from presenting to bringing treats.
Of course, there are schools that struggle with parent involvement. It can be difficult to get them to come into the school. When I taught at a school like that, I would try to do something involving culture. Then the parents felt a little more comfortable to share foods or customs. It was still hard, but I felt like it was the beginning of involving them in their child’s education.
Whether you have a lot of parent involvement or very little, I think it is important to encourage parents to participate when you can.