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Best Practices for Facilitating Parent Involvement in the Classroom

Best Practices for Facilitating Parent Involvement in the Classroom

classroom parents who come in and volunteer is a great way for moms and dads to feel that they are a real part of their children’s education. It is also an excellent opportunity for overextended educators to get an extra set of hands. Parent involvement in the classroom is an incredible resource, when used properly. Here are some tips to help ensure that you are involving parents in the classroom in the optimal way.

What should classroom parents do?

Parents in the classroom can do just about anything. And in some ways that makes maximizing their presence even more complicated. With so many possibilities, it can be difficult to decide exactly where you resources are best used. You probably have a few students who need some extra help, a few projects that could use some preparation and organizing, bulletin boards to hang, worksheets to photocopy. The list is endless, but your volunteers’ time is not. One way to ensure that their time in your class is used productively is to prepare the tasks you want them to do ahead of time, with clear instructions and organized materials, so that when they come in, they can get right down to business.

What is the best way to involve parents in the classroom?

The best way for moms and dads, or maybe even grandmas and grandpas, to join your class, is the way in which they want to. It is incredibly important to ensure that the tasks you are assigning to your volunteers are things that they want to do. They certainly shouldn’t be forced or pressured into anything they don’t willingly agree to, but ideally you really want them to be doing something they actually enjoy. Some parents only want to be around the kids, and some want to give time, but would prefer to be doing administrative tasks. When arranging the details of a volunteer opportunity for a parent, make sure that you know exactly what kinds of things they want to do. The happier your parent volunteers are with the tasks they are given, the more likely they are to continue donating their time in the long term.

There are so many different ways to involve parents in the classroom. They don’t necessarily need to be working with the kids directly. While they definitely can work one-on-one or with small groups of students to provide enrichment or remedial assistance, they can also do administrative tasks. If you have parents who want to come outside of school hours, they can prepare materials for upcoming lessons, or hang up some of your student work on the bulletin boards. Alternatively, you might just want an extra set of hands in the classroom, making sure that things are running smoothly. And these are just a few suggestions.

What do classroom parents need?

When people come to volunteer, they don’t necessarily have high expectations, but you need to make sure that they feel like their time is well spent. One important way to maximize the time is by preparing clear instructions. You can even E-mail them a day or two in advance to make sure that everything is clear. That way, if there are any questions, you can make sure to answer before the parent comes so there is no confusion. Make sure not to become frustrated if you need to explain something more than once, or take out some extra time to make sure that they fully understand what you need.

What is the best way to thank parents for being involved in the classroom?

No matter how successful your volunteers are, you absolutely must thank them. Remember, they are donating their time to help you, and they have no obligation to do so. Always be grateful and provide positive feedback even when things don’t go exactly how you want them to. Make sure not to become frustrated or annoyed if they don’t understand what you want, or if they don’t do things in the way you would have liked.

The more valued and fulfilled your classroom parents feel, the more likely they are to consistently donating their time and energy to your classroom. The school should show some appreciation for them in the form of a small gift and a personal note. You can even collect notes from the students themselves. Also, showing that you value the work of your parent volunteers doesn’t have to wait until the end of the year. In fact, doing something small every few weeks like providing breakfast or asking one child to write a note of appreciation can help motivate the volunteers to continue dedicating their time to your school.

With limited budgets, space and manpower, involving parents in the classroom is a great way to access some incredible additional resources. By making them feel productive and taking their preferences into consideration, you can motivate parents to continue working with you, and maybe even inspire others to donate their time as well.

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