Having taught Kindergarten for the beginning of this year and for most of last year, I have come to really love parent volunteers. In the past I was always hesitant to have parents in the classroom because I was afraid of being judged, having the students misbehave, and a variety of other excuses. When I started in a Kindergarten classroom with 21 students and no help, I decided that I would take parents up on their offer to help out in the classroom. I am not sure how others use their parent volunteers but I use them to help me out with projects that would make me go crazy if I attempted to do it with 21 students all at once. For the most part, the parents that volunteer in my class help the children with art projects that reinforce what we have been working on in class.
Today for instance, I had a mother in to help in the morning and another mother in to help in the afternoon. Seeing as this past week was Education Week and the theme was “Go Make A Difference” at our school, one of the projects that our committee asked us to do was to write postcards that could be sent to soldiers. This project made me a little nervous because many of my students can write their name but they find it difficult to copy off the board. Thanks to these two wonderful mothers, the students were able to work in small groups (two or three kids) with one adult. The parent helped the students make sure that the letters were formed legibly and that they signed their name in a reasonable location on the card. By having a parent do this for me I was able to continue along with the activities and lessons that I had planned and we accomplished twice as much in one day than I would have ordinarily been able to do.
I have noticed that I have fewer parent volunteers this year than normal and I believe that it is due in part to the fact that parents need to have a Criminal Record Check done before they are allowed in the classroom. I understand that this has become necessary in today’s society but it sure makes it hard for me to encourage parents to help out in the classroom. However, even with fewer numbers, the parents that have volunteered are more than willing to come in often. I feel somewhat bad asking them for help but each time someone is in my classroom they seem to always leave thanking me for letting them come in. I can’t seem to get them to understand that I feel as if it should be me thanking them (and I definitely do) because they have made my day so much easier and given the students to do some work that we might not have otherwise been able to do.
For any of you out there who are parents who have volunteered in the classroom or who in the future would like to volunteer in your child’s classroom what kind of activities do you like to do/would you like to do? Do you prefer working with the students or working in the background helping to organize different things? I would love to hear different ways that I can utilize the help of parents in the future.