Organizing Your Parent Volunteers

I have had some AMAZING parent volunteers in the past! A few of my room moms have been over-the-top incredible in throwing our class parties and helping out in the classroom. I have to say that for most of those years, my room moms became some of my best friends.

I've also had my fair share of room moms who weren't as excited about helping out and who struggled a little bit when it came to class parties and extra classroom activities. I don't blame anyone because everyone has different personalities and strengths, but what I have found is that if I am proactive about recruiting parents to help in the classroom, we have more participation, and parents feel valued and appreciated. 

I know you can't always predict the type of volunteers you will get in your classroom, but there are things you can do to help your parent volunteers run smoothly throughout the year.

Here are some ideas I have done over the years to help organize my parent volunteers:

I create a sign up document to use at my Back-to-School night. I like   
      them to be big and colorful so parents can easily see where to sign 

Print each page off on cardstock. This will help make them sturdy and durable. (After your parents have signed up, you can put them in a binder or somewhere safe so you can refer to them all year long.)

On your back-to-school night, open house, or first day of school, hang a  poster (or write a giant message on a white board) up above the sign up table. That way parents can see that you are accepting volunteers and will be able to find the sign up pages easily.

Nicely arrange each of the sign up pages on the sign up table with pens/pencils for parents to use. I like to spread them out so multiple parents can be signing up at once. 

As you meet parents for the first time, direct them to the table. Encourage them to sign up to volunteer in your classroom and explain how much you love having helpers in the classroom. 

Some parents might not be able to help out in the classroom. Let them know you have opportunities for them to help out at home. (You can send lamination or papers home for them to cut out, they can organize and staple papers together at home, and let them know that some of the volunteer positions are for a particular day. Maybe they could get off of work for a day to chaperone the field trip, or maybe they can come be a guest speaker in the classroom on a day that's convenient for them,)

After volunteer sign-ups are over, make sure to get ahold of parents (I like email best!) as soon as possible to let them know how they can help, and to arrange times for them to come into the classroom and volunteer. Find out which days of the week and times of the day work best for them so you can set up a schedule.

Here are the volunteer positions I always ask for in my classroom:

- Head room mom: to be in charge of making decisions and organizing all class parties and activities.

- Room moms: 2-3 extra volunteers who all help the head room mom in planning and organizing the class parties. 

- Class party volunteers: A committee of helpers to help out the room moms where ever  needed. They might be in change of a Halloween game, a Thanksgiving craft, a Christmas cookie, or whatever else. They give support where needed and help ensure each party/activity is a success.

- Reading Helpers: I always loved having parents come in during my reading time to help read with students. Their responsibilities changed according to what my students needed that day. 

(Sometime they were reading one-on-one with students, sometimes they'd help with sight word flashcards, sometimes they would play a sight word game with a small group of students, other times they could lead a literature group while I did reading conferences with students. It was always nice having parents volunteer to help during my reading time!) 

- Field Trip Chaperones: I loved getting people to sign up at the beginning of the year because then I always knew who to call if I needed someone. I never felt like I scrambling to find parents who wanted to come last minute, because I could always check the list of people who had already signed up.

-Guest Speakers: It's so fun to see what kinds of talents your parents have. I always opened this up to grandparents as well. Have them sign up if they'd like to come in and teach something they have a specialized knowledge, talent, or skill and invite them into the room sometime throughout the year to share their information and experiences. 

(Examples: My class got to learn some exciting things by having guest speakers come in. One grandpa was a general in the Navy and came in and talked about what it was like to serve in a war. I also had a set of grandparents who grew up in Germany and shared what it was like to grow up in a different culture. They were also able to share how WWII changed their lives even though they were really little at the time. I also had a dad who was an electrician. He came in one day and taught some of the science standards on electricity and had some fun visuals for the students to see and touch.)

Before I go, I'll just mention that I made this pack to help with your parent volunteer sign ups. You might already have a system that works for you, but if not, this pack is "print-and-go" ready for your Back-to-School night and also comes with 2 editable pages in case you need to add any volunteer jobs. 

Inside you’ll find one poster (to hang up during Back-to-School night, open house, or the first day of school) and 7 colorful sign-up pages (7 ready-to-print pages and 2 editable pages for you to customize). 

Pages included in this pack:
-notes to the teacher instruction page
-sign up poster
-room mom sign up sheet
-class party volunteers sign up sheet
-reading helpers sign up sheet
-field trip chaperone sign up sheet
-guest speaker sign up sheet
-at-home helpers
-copy and work room helpers
-2 editable pages so you can create your own sign up sheets

I feel like I could talk about this subject all day! 
If you have any further questions 
about organizing your parent volunteers, 
please leave a comment 
and I will see what else I can do 
to help answer questions.
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