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The Power of Parent Volunteers in the Classroom

Parent volunteers in the classroom can be a tremendous resource! This is especially true in the bilingual education space. However, sometimes it can feel overwhelming knowing how to incorporate them in your classroom to maximize the support. 

I’ve always been fortunate to have at least 2-3 regular parent volunteers every year. In the beginning it was time consuming to find things for them to do when I was just starting to figure out how to run my classroom and what systems worked for me.

Once I began intentionally planning out tasks for the volunteers to help with, things really started running smoothly in my classroom. I am forever grateful for every single parent who stepped foot in my classroom over the years to lend a helping hand. 

Want to learn how to leverage parent volunteers in the bilingual classroom? Let’s get started!

Does your school allow parent volunteers in the classroom?

First, you need to check with your school and district to make sure volunteers are allowed. Every school I have taught at allowed parent volunteers, so long as they cleared a background check with the district. 

Some schools have completely done away with allowing parents on campus for safety reasons. If this is the case at your school, you may not be able to rely on parents for help, but you can definitely set up these other two systems to save you huge amounts of time over the next school year.

Take Inventory

Next, think about WHAT you could use some extra help with. Think about YOUR classroom. Where could you use an extra pair of hands? Would your students benefit from an extra read aloud? A parent-led center/station? Prepping materials for lessons (science labs, copies, centers)? Do you need help updating bulletin boards, your door, etc for school events and holidays?

Make a List and Create a Survey

Then, make a list of all the ways parent volunteers could help in your classroom and narrow it down to 2 or 3 groups.

I liked to use the following categories: working with students, materials prep, and special events.

Remember that everyone is different and while parents want to help, they may not be comfortable leading an activity or reading/presenting to a group of students. In a bilingual classroom, especially dual language, we have to be considerate of the parent’s native language and what they are most comfortable with. It’s always good practice to give choices so parents can decide where they feel they could best contribute.

You will use this information to create a short survey to send out to parents during the first days of school. 

Want to get an idea of what your survey could look like? Click here for a FREE Bilingual Parent Volunteer Survey. This survey can be sent at the beginning of the year to help organize and see where to best use the much appreciated extra help. As with all my resources, the survey is fully bilingual (Spanish/English). You can print it out and send it home, or my favorite way, turn it into a Google Form and send out the link to parents in an email. I find that it is much easier to sort the data with the Google Form, but do what is best for YOUR classroom. By taking the time during the summer to create a list of tasks and the Parent Volunteer Survey, you will be ready to send it out over the first days of school and most importantly, you will know WHAT to do with the responses you get.

Make a Plan

Finally, you need to have a general plan in place before sending out the parent volunteer survey. How will you schedule time for your volunteers? What will you want parents who have recurring availability (meaning they can volunteer regularly like every Monday, for example) to do? Where will you keep things readily available for the parents who want to help with prepping materials so they don’t have to ask you each time where to find something? Answering these questions will make analyzing your survey results much faster and can be done ahead of time.

Parent volunteers can be a HUGE help and asset to the classroom. Some years you may be flooded with eager parents, while other years you may get crickets back on your Parent Volunteer Survey. Either way, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. Don’t forget to get your FREE Parent Volunteer Survey here to get started!

The next post of the Teacher Time Savers Summer Series will show you how to create an effective data collection system that will save you HOURS over the next school year!

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