Enlisting the help of parents in classroom settings can improve student achievement within our schools. In fact, students have been shown to exhibit fewer behavioral issues and perform better academically when other adults are included in classroom activities. And with an overall higher class morale and improved communication between parents and teachers, everyone wins when parents pitch in their share of involvement. If you’re interested in recruiting a few adults to volunteer in your class, here are five ways to get parents involved as classroom volunteers.
1. Be Direct
When different teachers have varying expectations about what’s expected in their classroom, things can get a bit confusing. Parents can be cautious or hesitant when it comes to volunteering, as they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or cause any trouble. Instead of being vague about how great it would be to see parents in your classroom, give them specific details on what your expectations might be. It would also be wise to write a letter to parents about how many volunteers you’d like to have each week and the responsibilities you plan on giving them.
2. Develop Relationships
Whenever the opportunity arises, try to develop relationships with your students’ parents. Whether it’s at drop-off, pick-up, or outside of school, be friendly and proactive when talking to parents. If anyone ever shares particular strengths that they have, such as artistic skills or math prowess, keep that in mind to use in your classroom and present the idea of volunteering when the time comes.
3. Provide Motivation
Some parents might be interested in helping out the entire classroom, while others might be motivated on a more personal level. For example, if you’ve shared with a student’s parents that their child needs to work on developing creative ideas in writing, perhaps one of them can volunteer during your writing period to help aid the whole class. The parents can watch you teach a lesson and then help your students (as well as their own child) put new skills into action.
4. Be Considerate
Volunteers won’t feel comfortable or respected in your classroom if they have to crouch down in a corner. To avoid this, be sure to set aside one or two desks and chairs to act as a volunteer station. Parents will then have a place to put down their things and feel more connected to the environment. Even though it’s a small detail, this sign of consideration can lead to a greater volunteer return rate.
5. Show Gratitude
Since most parents have busy schedules with very little free time, they’ll appreciate being thanked each time they volunteer in your classroom. In fact, many parents will want to come back and help when they realize how welcomed and important they are. Have your students write or draw notes about how grateful they are to have each volunteer in the class and compile a book as part of a thank you gift.