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Working with Parent Volunteers: Tips for Teachers

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

Parental volunteers provide much-needed assistance in the classroom, but only after the teacher communicates and organizes ways for them to get involved. Learn tips for teachers to request, schedule, and organize volunteer opportunities for parents and grandparents. Updated: 11/12/2021

Working With Parent Volunteers

Who among us couldn't use a little help every now and then? It was the least popular Beatle, Ringo Starr, who sang, ''I get by with a little help from my friends.'' It was, of course, obvious to anyone who knows anything about the Beatles that Ringo got by with a lot of help from his friends. The point I'm trying to make, in an extremely roundabout manner, is that having a little help can be beneficial to all involved. Nowhere is this more true than with parent volunteers, adults from outside of the school coming in to help in the classroom. You, the teacher, get some much needed assistance, the students get another caring person to assist them, and the parent volunteer gets the satisfaction of knowing they are impacting children's lives.

There are some classic ways that parents have volunteered in the past. I've always been a fan of the bake sale, but in today's health-conscious schools, that might be going the way of the dodo. We're also all familiar with parent chaperones for school activities, from field trips to dances. This is extremely helpful, but these aren't day-to-day activities. So, for this lesson, we'll focus on ways that teachers can encourage and help their parent volunteers in the regular classroom.

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Tips for Teachers

First of all, many parents do want to help, but are unsure how to help or in what capacity. How you communicate with, work with, and show your appreciation to your parent volunteers will make a huge difference on how often you will have volunteers. Let's take a look at a few tips that can help you to make the most of your parent volunteers.

One of the most important parts of getting parents to volunteer is letting them know you need them! In today's digital age, you may find that many parents prefer receiving e-mails instead of notes to home or newsletters. It's not crazy to ask for your student's parent's email address or, at least, whether they have a preferred method of communication. It might be a great idea to keep a social media page or a website for parents to follow along with.

Many parents want to help, but are unsure as to how they can. It can be helpful to set aside a little time every month to figure out what activities you need parental volunteers for, how much time you might need, and how many. This way, if a parent asks you if you need any help, you can have a very direct answer, and they can schedule it then. Also, another great parental volunteer opportunity is to help you by coordinating and scheduling other volunteers.

The reality is that most parents work, so their time is not often available. Working around these parents' schedules can be a bit difficult, but you'll have a much greater pool of resources if you can. A few methods involve having early shifts, prior to their workday starting; incorporating telecommunications (such as Google Hangout or Skype); or letting them volunteer from home by preparing materials. Also, though it's not in the classroom, if you have weekend tasks, such as a class pet or garden, this is a great opportunity for working parents to get involved.

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