It is often said that parents’ involvement in their child’s education is the number one determinant of a child’s success in school. Being a room parent is not only greatly appreciated by the school, but it provides a unique opportunity for you to participate in your child’s education here at Argonne. Being a room parent is a fun way to get to know your child’s teacher and classmates, and other volunteers, while planning class celebrations and assisting your child’s teacher. Room parents also play a vital role in grade-level collaborations and school-wide communication, networking and community building.
The main purpose of the room parent is to be a liaison between the teacher and the parents of your child’s class, as well as a liaison among room parents. The time involved is very modest and manageable, but it is extremely important and helpful. Teachers are quite overburdened, as you know—your volunteering can really alleviate some stress, and greatly benefit the class and school as a whole.
In general, room parents help the teacher in ways that he or she might need. Note: It can be very helpful to have two or more room parents, to provide back-up support, and to share the responsibilities. The job could be divided according to “school wide” or “out of class” support and “in class” support. The phone calling/emailing for school-wide events can be done by a parent who is not able to physically be at school during school hours. It is important to call those families who do not have or use emails.
Coordinating as a Room parent “in the classroom”
Teachers will want to work with their room parents in different ways, but here are some examples of possible room parent roles:
1. Talk to your child’s teacher to find out what he or she would like volunteers to do for the class. Examples of what classroom volunteers may do include: volunteering to bring snacks, participating in field trips, working in the classroom, and fundraising for class trips.
2. Collect family’s contact information: Send around a sign up sheet with children’s name (and nickname), parents’ names, addresses, phone numbers & email addresses at Back to School Night. Follow up with missing contacts.
3. Contact the parents in your room and ask them:
- what they can do for the class (i.e., how and when they are able to help);
- how best to contact them (for your future use, and because the PTO or Principal occasionally needs to pass along important information quickly and with just a few phone calls and/or emails this can be accomplished); and
- whether English is not their first language (if you have any families that are not fluent in English, please enlist bilingual parents to be the contact person for them).
4. After consulting with your teacher, send around/post a sign up sheet for in-class/recess time volunteering. We always need more parents helping in the class and on the yard. If the teacher would like coverage during class, then try to line up one parent for each time slot that the teacher would like a volunteer. Coordinate with all room parents to recruit volunteers for a) morning recess, b) lunch, c) recess.
5. Work with the classroom teacher to ensure clear communication of academic and social expectations and how families can help foster this at home. For example, encourage the teacher to communicate the following:
- give a brief overview of grade-level standards and expectations;
- how the teacher will communicate the materials/expectations/homework assignments to the class (weekly newsletters, binders, folders, incentive systems);
- the teacher’s volunteer needs and training for volunteers,
- brief training for parents on what they can do in the classroom as volunteers or at home with their own kids related to how to work on writing, literacy, math, etc.
- provide an outline of the children’s weekly schedule for the trimester. Post this/send home to all families.
- Meet with teacher once a week to write down what the kids did each week (academically and in each Artist Time discipline and P.E.) and send out to all families. (Some teachers already do this).
6. Help inform and coordinate parents to provide special project supplies, curriculum enrichment, presentations.
7. Coordinate parent chaperones for field trips, in accordance with teacher specifications regarding how many are needed.
8. Provide a “network” with classroom parents, to help everyone to get to know each other better, and coordinate “parent to parent” support where needed, e.g. transportation issues, carpooling, homework questions, etc.
9. Coordinate class celebrations with the teacher as appropriate for Halloween, November Harvest, Winter Holidays, Valentine’s Day, End-of-Year, etc. (including decorations, food, drinks, etc.).
10. Arrange a teacher appreciation gift usually given at the winter holiday and at the end of the school year in June.
Coordinating as a Room Parent “Beyond the Classroom” and Ideas for other ways to help
- Organize a GRADE-LEVEL picnic. The room parents from each class generally organize a potluck picnic during the fall. Pick a date, time, and location with the other room parents in your grade level and ask all families to bring a dish to share.
- Coordinate class projects (creation of items) for Argonne Mayfair donation (in the spring).
- Ask your child’s teacher for a wish list for the classroom and a) circulate it among room families to get donations then b) circulate it among broader Argonne community in the Tuesday Newsletter;
- Organize bi-annual (twice a year) work parties to clean the classroom (get new sponges, wipe down all counters, sharpen pencils, refresh supplies);
- Send out reminder emails to families about events, volunteer needs, etc.;
- Communicate with other Room parents at the grade level to a) coordinate field trips, b) work on equalizing resources and opportunities among all classes, c) share information about good projects;
If you have any questions or ideas please feel free to contact the PTO or firstname.lastname@example.org