Room Parent Tips from the VolunTOLD…You’re Welcome
As much as I’d like to tell you all that I was asked to be room parent because of my stellar parenting skills – that isn’t the case at all. A representative from my son’s school emailed me saying:
“Hi there, we met briefly at the Kindergarten picnic, and it seems like you’ve got your ish together (impressively gathered from our 5 minute chat). Also, 3 parents have backed out. Can you help a sistah out?!”
Lol…ok, so maybe I doctored that up a bit, but you get the point. I felt the pressure. I wasn’t going to leave my son’s class hangin. I’ve got this! (not really)
Fortunately, I have some amazing friends who are teachers themselves and I was able to use my interviewing skills and ask them what they wanted from a room parent. I took what they said and used my noggin to come up with tips for busy parents to help them to be the coolest room parent in their grade. Check it out:
Set up a meeting with the teacher your ideas (I’ll help with those in a sec), questions (see starter questions below), and boundary-setting cap on. Boundaries are for your protection. The teacher will have expectations, and you have to make sure that you come with yours too!
Questions for Teacher:
- How would you like to communicate with me? (text, email, classroom app (e.g. ClassDojo)
- When is your birthday? When is the Teacher’s Assistant’s birthday?
- Are parties acceptable? When are they appropriate? What is the food policy?
- What assistance will you need with classroom supplies?
- What methods are acceptable for collecting money?
- What is the policy for approving books for mystery reading?
- What are ongoing classroom supply needs?
- For each event, please send dates, volunteer needs, location, context, and all relevant times at least a month in advance or as soon as the event is approved by school administration (this gives you time to create the sign-up and/or email, let the teacher approve it, and then send it out to all the parents.)
- Ask teacher to come prepared to the meeting with a calendar that indicates all expected events.
- Ask teacher to come prepared to the meeting with a parent email list. (Don’t forget to chat about the appropriate way to protect parents’ personal information)
- Signup Genius is your friend! This is a free application that you may use for field trip, class program, and mystery reader sign-ups. It allows you to use your own custom pictures, send an email blast, and notifies you when volunteers sign up for your events. I used even used this sign-up app to ensure that all kids made the teacher a homemade birthday card. Those who didn’t sign up to make one were provided a ready-made card that they could sign so they weren’t left out. Here’s the link to Sign Up Genius BTW: https://www.signupgenius.com/
- In my case, the teacher wanted to have parties for a few holidays. Here is how I approached each party: Part I: Educational Fun/Exposure Activity Part II: Creative Craft Part II: Storytime or (if time permits) a fun video that relates to the party’s theme. See my Holiday Party approaches for Halloween, Christmas, and Valentines Day, here: TBA
- Don’t get stuck with the bill $$$. Plan ahead, and make sure that teacher gifts (birthday), events, and supplies are funded by the parents. You may have the parents bring the money into the classroom to the teacher to ensure that you’re in the clear of all money-handling foolishness. Signup Genius also has a money-collecting feature, but I’m pretty sure they take a percentage. You can usually cover a lot of ground by asking each parent for $1 each (and I had any leftover donated to the classroom supply budget)
Teachers are rockstars for dealing with our kids all day. I’d like to make sure we willingly take care of them just like they willingly take care of our youngins. Hope this post enables someone do just that!