Having parent volunteers in the classroom can be extremely helpful. At back to school night, I let my classroom parents know that I was very flexible with having parents come in our room. They didn’t necessarily have to give me much notice, and if they wanted to just pop in and help, they were welcome.
I think parents appreciated the flexibility and opportunity to have a variety of ways to participate in the classroom. Read on to find al the ways I let parents volunteer and grab a FREE editable form to help you organize your volunteer schedule.
Working with Students
1. Centers – One of the most helpful ways I used parent volunteers in my classroom, was to help during center time. Not every teacher has an aide or paraprofessional, so any extra support is appreciated.
Some years I’d have 1-2 volunteers a week, while other times I could get a parent for every day of the week. Parents would come in and help sit at a particular center or walk around and make sure kids were on task, while I ran small groups. Having volunteers meant I got meaningful time with small groups and didn’t get interrupted.
2. Small Group/1:1 – For school parent volunteers that were a bit more comfortable working academically with students, I’d have them work in the hallway with 1-2 kids at a time. Students loved getting the individual support and attention!
These students needed some extra practice on beginning sounds, so this parent used my Dot It! Literacy games. Parents could help them identify the picture as well as help them hear the beginning sound if needed. Students love using these BINGO dabbers!
My higher academic students were ready to work on middle vowel sounds, so they used these alphabet beads and my Building Words cards. 3. Share their Expertise – One easy way to get parents to feel comfortable coming in to volunteer, would be to have them to share their expertise. Our Kindergarten team hosted a big career day in the school gym and had many parents sign up to volunteer.
We had almost 15 stations for students to rotate through! Students learned all about being an EMT, massage therapist, doctor, McDonald’s worker, karate coach, and more! I did a whole blog post about our Kindergarten career day, so you can learn more about how to set one up for your grade level.If you can’t pull off a career day, you could have parent volunteers come in when you are learning about a certain topic. One Spring, a classroom mom came in to share the new baby ducks they had on their farm.
While reading a book about ducks, a student mentioned that she had baby ducks at home. I asked her mom about it at school pick-up, and she volunteered to bring them in the next morning. She taught the students a few fun facts about ducks.
4. Read Alouds – Many times I would have parents come to simply do a read aloud while they were going to be at school anyway. Whether that be for lunch with their child, at school drop-off, or before picking up their child at the end of the day. When I lived in my hometown, my dad even dressed up as Santa and came to read “The Night Before Christmas”. 5. Fun Friday (crafts/cooking) – If you’re administration is flexible and lets you have some time for “Fun Friday”, it’s a great way to get parent volunteers to come in and help. I would rotate between crafts and cooking in the classroom on Fridays. One school I worked at, did not allow cooking or general “fun” crafts. Therefore, I made our crafts related to what we were learning that week.
You can easily make puppets to go along with a story you’ve been reading, then have the students work in pairs for retelling. This gives students a chance to work on coloring, cutting, pasting, and being somewhat creative, while keeping it educational. They still need those essential fine motor skills!6. Classroom Parties – In my room, I’d put parents in charge of a craft, snack station, or game during parties. In December during our gingerbread unit, we built gingerbread houses. This can be tricky with 20+ little ones, so thankfully I’d get some parents to participate. Read more about how we made gingerbread houses and grab a FREE writing prompt to go with them.At the schools where it was allowed, I did a Thanksgiving feast. Many parents volunteered to make homemade food or send in items for the feast. Parents were also allowed to attend the feast with their child, which many did. 7. Field Day – Our field days were HUGE and always had many games for the kids to rotate through. This requires quite a few parent school volunteers to help run the stations, and we were always lucky to have enough help. They don’t have to work too hard, and they get to enjoy the sun. 🙂 Check out these 12 field day game ideas.
Other Volunteer Opportunities
8. Field Trips – Field trips can be very stressful, especially when you go to busy places like a museum, zoo, park, etc. Being able to have many parent volunteers and split students into small groups with 1-2 adults is very helpful. It also doesn’t require parents to work directly with students academically, but mainly help supervise.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned about how to make field trips more successful.
1. Design shirts or have all of your students wear the same color so it’s a bit easier to find your students.
2. Give EVERYONE name tags (I even color code the groups and put the name/school/my phone # on everyone’s name tag)
3. Provide each parent with a small bag of supplies (hand sanitizer, band-aids, kleenex, your cell #, list of kids in their group)9. Teacher Assistant – Some parent volunteers don’t mind coming in for an hour or so occasionally, but they may not feel comfortable working with kids. I had them copy, laminate, sort papers, put up bulletin boards, and more.
If you find a creative parent, they may even help come up with a design for a bulletin board. Below is one of my favorite bulletin boards. Read more about how to create your own Best Part of Me board and grab the FREE writing prompt too. 10. Work from home – Not all parents are able to come in during the day to help, but would still love to support you if they can. Why cut out all of this laminating from my Writing Center, when a parent volunteers to? 🙂
I would send home things that needed to be colored, cut out, books to be made, book orders to be stapled, etc. Their child would take home what I needed done and bring it back when it was ready. I typically ask parents to return it within a week.
It’s best to send a sample home with quick notes of what to do. If you’re picky like me, you need to BE SPECIFIC about what you want done and your expectations.
-What should they color it with? (markers, crayons, etc)
-How should it be cut? (on the lines or a little space around the edge)
-Send home small bags or envelopes if they are cutting and putting together center pieces,Here is a field trip form I give parents at the beginning of the year. It gives them the option to select when they are free to volunteer and what types of opportunities are available. Grab this FREE editable parent volunteer form for your own classroom. This form is also included in my Meet the Teacher Bundle. There are some Amazon affiliate links in this post to help you better find the materials I mentioned.