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How to Better Utilize Parent Volunteers in Your Classroom

As a teacher, you understand the importance of collaboration when it comes to providing students with an effective learning environment. Working with parent volunteers can be an especially valuable resource in the classroom as they bring much-needed support and assistance.

But how do we both maximize the impact of their time both in and out of the classroom? In this blog post, I will provide teachers with helpful tips on how to better utilize parent volunteers in their classrooms so that everyone is getting the most out of these invaluable partnerships.

The importance of parent volunteer

The Benefits of Utilizing Parent Volunteers

As a teacher, the idea of utilizing parent volunteers in the classroom can be both exciting and intimidating. However, incorporating parent volunteers into your lesson plans can have numerous benefits for you and your students.

Not only can these volunteers bring a fresh perspective and new insights into your classroom, but they can also provide much-needed reinforcement for struggling students.

Additionally, parent volunteers can create a positive and inclusive classroom environment by fostering a strong sense of community between home and school.

When I first started teaching the thought of having other adults in the classroom terrified me! As an introvert, I grew up extremely quiet and shy. That shyness for some reason doesn’t transfer over to the children, but I know a lot of you feel the same way!

It takes time to feel comfortable having other adults in the classroom with you. Once your confidence grows and you can invite parents in you’ll see the immense benefits you get from utilizing parent volunteers!

In class parent volunteers

As a teacher, having parent volunteers in your classroom is a great way to enhance the educational experience for your students. There are so many creative ways for parents to get involved and contribute to your lessons.

You could ask parents to come in and read a story to the class, or share their own experiences and expertise in a particular subject.

Depending on the age of your students, parent volunteers could also help with art projects or science experiments. Having a classroom parent can be extremely beneficial, not just for the teacher, but for the students as well.

The presence of a parent volunteer can create a positive and supportive learning environment that fosters a sense of community and involvement within the classroom. Here’s a list of ways you can use parent volunteers in your classroom:

  • Special guest reader
  • Small group teacher
  • One-on-One tutor
  • Run copies
  • Laminate
  • Prep art projects
  • Field trips
  • Organize parts of the classroom such as the library, centers, or supply bins
  • Help with student take-home bags
  • Assist students who are using computers or tablets
  • Change out bulletin boards (I personally hate doing that so I love this one!)

When teachers are helping students one-on-one I really like to have task cards available for them to quickly grab and work with a student on a particular skill. You can read more about how I do that HERE.

Parent Volunteers at home

At-Home Parent Volunteers

Being a working parent can be challenging, but for parents who still want to be involved but can’t make it during school hours I’ve got some ideas for you.

  • Tearing out worksheets
  • Prepping decodable readers
  • Art project prep
  • Book donations
  • Cut out lamination
  • Coordinate class parties
  • Email parents about upcoming events
  • Hole punch or staple materials
  • Make play-doh or slime for an in-class project

There are so many monotonous jobs that we do as teachers. Outsourcing some of this can help A LOT!

It’s always important to recognize the parents who have done work for you at home. For in-class volunteers, it’s easy to thank them when they are working in our classroom.

Those who have done work can be acknowledged by saying – “these books were put together by ____’s parent so remember to say thank you next time you see them!” The child of that parent will love the recognition and love that their parent is being included even if the other students didn’t see the work they put in.

Parent volunteer communication

Efficient Communication with Your Parent Volunteers

Volunteering at your child’s school is always a great way to give back to your community and stay involved in your child’s education. However, coordinating schedules and finding time to volunteer can be challenging for busy parents.

That’s why creating a consistent schedule and communicating it in advance can make a big difference. By doing so, parent volunteers can plan ahead and ensure that they don’t miss any important volunteering opportunities.

For in-class volunteers, I like to keep a consistent weekly schedule that they can sign-up for on my door. I introduce it the first week of school and leave it in the same place all year long.

During the open house, I ask parents to let me know if they would like to do any work from home. I compile a list of emails of parents who are willing to do small projects for me at home.

Whenever something comes up I shoot an email to that group. I make sure that I’m EXTREMELY CLEAR about what I need and when I need it. If any parent has the time they email me back and I send the supplies home in their child’s backpack.

This does require some planning on your part, but it is well worth it! Here are some other tips that help me make the most out of parent volunteer time:

  • Provide clear work examples – make one complete project/book/etc. first, so parents can see what you want.
  • Give clear time guidelines – If you want a parent to work with a student or group tell them exactly how much time they have to work with each student before moving on to the next.
  • Due dates – The same goes for project due dates. Make sure the parents know exactly when you need the material prepped, ready, and returned to the classroom.
  • Have supplies ready – volunteers should have everything organized in one spot so they can come in and start working immediately. Make the most out of their time!
  • Alumni parents – take advantage of efficient parents you’ve had in the past! If their child’s current teacher isn’t utilizing them then reach out and ask them to help you again!
  • Book/toy donations – this is also great for alumni parents when their children aren’t using the materials at home anymore why not donate them to the school? I was doing a force and motion lesson once and sent out an email for old toy cars and I got so many donations!
parent volunteer appreciation

As the school year comes to a close, it’s important to take the time to express gratitude for the parent volunteers who have dedicated their time and effort to help make the year a success.

Saying “thank you” can go a long way in showing appreciation, but there are other ways to show your thanks as well.

Consider hosting a volunteer appreciation event or sending a personal thank-you note. You could also create a special gift or award for your volunteers, such as a certificate or a small token of appreciation.

At my niece and nephew’s school, they always have a volunteer brunch for all the volunteers at the end of the year. I love the way that the admin works with the teachers to create a school-wide event! Amazon and Etsy also have some great gift options!

Whatever you do, make sure your volunteers know how much their hard work and dedication mean to you and the school community. Showing appreciation is a simple but powerful way to build stronger relationships and encourage continued volunteerism.

Parent volunteers are an invaluable resource for teachers and it is important to properly recognize, train, and appreciate them for the amazing work they do in your classroom.

Creatively utilizing their talents will grant you the opportunity to tackle bigger projects and make your curriculum more engaging.

With a consistent schedule and ample communication, regarding expectations, you have the ability to “lighten your load” while still offering meaningful roles in which their help can be utilized. Remember to express authenticity when expressing your appreciation to parent volunteers who leave lasting impressions on students year after year.

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