Parent involvement is something that should always be encouraged in preschool classrooms. Parents are their child’s first, and most important, teacher. Having parent volunteers in your preschool classroom is extremely beneficial to everyone involved. They are there to help though, not just as visitors, so make sure you use their time with you wisely.
HAVE THEM SIGN-UP AHEAD
It is important for you to have your volunteers sign-up in advance for a couple of reasons. You do not want to end up with too many volunteers at one time with nothing for them to do, and then have no volunteers when you really could have used them. Knowing ahead of time when you will have a volunteer can help you plan your curriculum, too. You can plan more involved activities that require more adults when you know you will have a volunteer to help out.
Create a parent volunteer sign-up sheet and keep it posted in your classroom. Make it clear how far in advance you need them to sign-up to volunteer, so that you can plan accordingly. If you know one of your teachers has to be out of the classroom for a short time on a specific day, but there is a volunteer signed-up that day, then you do not have to worry about finding a substitute for the absent teacher.
HAVE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
When you have volunteers in your preschool classroom they need to know exactly what is, and is not, expected of them. It is a good idea to create a volunteer policy handbook to make sure the expectations are extremely clear. Before any parent volunteers in your classroom they to need to read and understand all of the policies. Here are a few good topics to be sure to include in your volunteer policy handbook:
*Background checks (this is required in most states)
*Volunteer responsibilities in the classroom
KNOW WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING
Make the most of having a parent volunteer in your preschool classroom. Plan ahead and know exactly what you want your volunteers to be doing. They could assist with special projects, sit with and help manage children during circle time, or lead story time. Having parent volunteers is also a great opportunity for families to share their own culture through cooking, music, and games. The possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to lighten your workload.
It is important that your parent volunteers feel welcome in your preschool classroom. You want them to feel useful and also like they are getting something out of spending their free time in your classroom. If you can do this, your parent volunteers will be sure to come back again and again. So, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate them and recognize them publicly. Your volunteers do so much to enrich your classroom community, and they should know how much that means to you and your preschoolers.
Having parent volunteers in your preschool classroom gives the parents a chance to see first hand all of the amazing things that you are doing in your classroom for their children. It gives you an extra set of eyes and pair of hands in what is typically a very busy environment. Of course, your preschoolers will love having their parents visit their classroom, too!