Growing Your Garden of Parent Volunteers
As a room parent you are much like a gardener – with a very hands-on approach, you will spend the school year aiming to grow your parent community and their participation in the classroom while making sure the teacher’s needs are also met. Hone your skills and talents, and watch your beautiful work grow with these 4 tips:
Pull the weeds: Get rid of the time-consuming, stress-inducing obstacles that prevent your parent volunteer community from growing and getting involved. Clipboard signup sheets and reply-all emails are a hassle-and-a-half for organizers and volunteers.
Pull this weed and instead start using free online signup sheets and scheduling tools; the convenience and ease of use will get more parents involved and save you hundreds of hours of busy work. Plus, automated reminders help parents keep their commitments and keep everyone on track.
Till the ground: Meet early and often with your classroom teacher to solidify the volunteer jobs and areas in the classroom where s/he needs the most help. Knowing your footing in the soil will best help you help the teacher. Recent survey data shows that teachers are really looking for more assistance with curriculum support, i.e. homework help, tutoring and one-on-one reading. Ask your teacher if they want help in these areas in addition to field trips, class parties and donating school supplies.
Plant the seeds: Be strategic with where and when you ask parents for help, don’t scatter your calls for help where parents won’t hear them. If your parent volunteer community is online, plant the seeds (links to online signups) on your social media channels, via email, and on the classroom blog. Are many of your parents attending back-to-school night and school fun nights? Have VolunteerSpot’s mobile apps handy to sign parent volunteers up on the spot!
Water the garden: Feed your volunteers the nutrients they need to keep going. Show recognition often and where appropriate. Hand-written thank you notes, shout outs on facebook and twitter, special parties and treats are simple ways to say thank you and show volunteers how appreciated they are.
Grow your volunteer community be encouraging them to have conversations with one another, brainstorm for the classroom together and truly enjoy their volunteer time. Check out 6 Ways to Boost Parent Communication