Although blogging is a great passion and outlet for me, I’m also a 3rd grade teacher. Much of my time and energy (and money) is spent focused around the 26 little people I spend more than seven hours with five days a week. That’s a lot of time spent together! I make it an important goal to become as familiar with each child as I possible can, from their interests to their learning style, their goals, their fears, and just about everything in between. Many other dedicated teachers and I make it our whole business to help each student learn and grow as much as possible in the 9 months we get to work with them. I’ve learned some great secrets and tricks for how to motivate children and how to help them improve, but do you want to know my ultimate “secret weapon”? It’s YOU! That’s right, I’m talking to you, the person at home who spends the other half of the day with your children. My job may be titled “teacher” but you are just as important to your child’s education, if not more so! I often get so sad to hear parents who “joke” about being glad to send their kid to school to let the teacher “deal” with him/her. While I’m happy to provide my students with love, stability, and opportunities to grow, I have found time and time again that the most successful, highest achieving students are almost always those who have support from their parents as well. One excellent way you can show your children that support is by volunteering in their classrooms. Here are some of the best and simple ways to get involved in your kid’s classroom.
Become a Room Parent
It may sound like an overwhelming job, but don’t shy away from signed up to be a room parent! Your primary tasks will involve planning and running class parties and other small tasks such as putting up class bulletin boards and organizing Teacher Appreciation details. Even if your time is limited, your child’s teacher will appreciate ANY help you can provide!
Join the PTA Or Parent’s Organization
There are many advantages to joining the school’s PTA but two stand out in particular. First, you’ll stay up-to-date with school news and events. Also, PTA members provide support to the school in ways that take a school from being mediocre to being outstanding. Most of the truly memorable events and activities that take place each year are planned and provided by the PTA. Your child will LOVE having you involved in all the fun activities!
Help With Small-Group Instruction
One of the most challenging parts to being a teacher is making learning accessible to EVERY student in the classroom. This is especially difficult when considering that every class has students on a wide range of comprehension levels. One of the best methods for getting around this issue is by working with students in small groups. Parent volunteers in my classroom are SO invaluable when it comes to working with advanced or struggling groups alike to keep each child as engaged as possible! Even offering this kind of tutoring help for 30 minutes a month will make a tremendous difference in your child’s education!
Start or Join An After-School Club
Get involved with after-school clubs and organizations. Because a teacher’s evening is often spent prepping for the next day, after-school clubs really rely on parents and other volunteers to become fully realized.
Get Involved with Extracurricular Activities
One way to be an all star in your child’s world is to get involved in after-school sports and other extracurricular activities. Volunteer as coach, chauffeur, or simply by providing treats… anything helps!
Work As A School Aide
Get a job or volunteer as a school aide. This could involve working with reading or math groups, providing assistance to a teacher, or working with the Special Education department. Talk to the school’s secretaries to find out how the school might use your time and skills.
If you really want a taste for how things are in your child’s classroom (and some extra cash), consider becoming a substitute teacher. When I used to work at a year round school, I would work as a sub during my times off. It gave me an instant snapshot of the classroom environment. I also loved seeing all the creative teaching ideas and learning how to work with such diverse groups of students. It may have a bad reputation, but working as a substitute is actually quite fun and rewarding!
Help Organize Class Parties
Who doesn’t like to party?! Offer up your time in your child’s classroom by helping to organize class parties and events. These are an important part of every classroom as they help students and teachers create fun memories and special bonds. Don’t miss out on the excitement!
Go On Field Trips
One of my favorite parts of teaching is going on field trips! But it can be stressful for a teacher as well when you’re responsible for watching 25 + kids as you adventure to new places. The best scenario for field trips is when there are enough volunteers that each adult takes a small group of 3-6 students. Divide and conquer!
Offer To Share Your Skills
If you have a special skill or talent that you think your child’s class might enjoy learning, don’t hesitate to ask if you can share it with the class! I love when parents come to teach us special art or science lessons! It offers a much welcome and needed break from regular learning and students often remember these events the most.
Attend Special Event Nights
Volunteer to help put on special event nights such as a science fair, literacy night, or history fair. These events go a long way in making kids feel important and successful but are hard to put on without some real community effort. And if you just can’t volunteer?… simply attending to show school support will make a big difference as well!
Help With Book Fairs
Some of the most popular events at our school each year are the book fairs. There is always so much excitement around the books and other items and it really is a fun place to be! Also, book fairs are usually held as school fundraisers so your donated time will really help out with raising funds to keep your child’s school up and running!
Never Skip Parent/Teacher Conferences
While attending Parent/Teacher Conferences may not be a volunteering opportunity, I can not say enough for how important these are in your child’s education. It provides a chance to sit down with someone who spends 35-40 hours each week with your child and who has that child’s best interest at heart. You can problem solve, create goals and plans, and, most importantly, celebrate your child’s success! I always feel so sad for the few students in my class who sit there the day after Conferences and listen to how everyone else’s parents attended except their own. It means a lot more to them than many adults realize!