Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tips for volunteering in your child's class...

We know that the majority of Lincoln DLP parents want to be deeply involved with their child's education.  I would guess that is one of the reasons we all chose the DLP in the first place.  We want to be involved, be proactive and provide our children with as many opportunities for educational success. Right?  Well, volunteering in the classroom can help you learn what's happening at school, show your child that you care about education and keep you connected with your child's teacher and other parents.

It doesn't take much, even one hour a month will yield positive results. If one person from every family volunteered once a month, our teachers would always have an assistant.  Even if you are a busy, working parent there are still simple and easy things you can do to help from home.   With the class size increase in SCESD, parent volunteers are needed more than ever.  We took the following excerpts from an article about volunteering featured on Greatschool.org.  We hope you find these tidbits helpful.

Tips for Volunteering:
1. Communicate with the teacher and/or the classroom parent. Let your teacher know what types of things you'd like to help with and get a sense of what she's comfortable with you doing. At the start of the school year, simply organizing classroom supplies and/or  making copies is a huge help.  In the younger classes (i.e. Preschool and Kinder) assisting children find their way to the bathroom, helping reinforce the classroom rules (keep your hands to yourself, no talking while the teacher is speaking, etc) is a huge help.  Helping decorate your classroom bulletin board can also be a big help for your teacher.  Don't be afraid to ask other parents at drop off or pick-up if they can help you in a project for the class.  You can also tell your teacher about any special skills or talents you have that might be helpful to the class. While you should be clear about your expectations, it is also important to remember that teachers have different styles. One teacher might want you to design a project and lead the class in doing it. Another might need to learn to trust you before he will want you to work independently with a group of students.
2. Be flexible. You will be most helpful to the teacher if you are willing to do whatever needs doing. But if you aren't getting to do the things you'd like to do, discuss that with the teacher after school hours. There may be a better time for you to come or she may just not need help in that area.
3. Don't take it personally if the teacher doesn't have time to chat. Class time must be focused on the students. If you need to talk to the teacher, make an appointment to talk outside of school hours.  This is especially critical for our program, as we want to help our teachers maintain the Spanish model.  If you are bilingual, then you can speak with the teacher before or after class.  You may even offer to translate for English speaking parents. 
4. Remember that it is not your job to discipline the kids. It is OK to ask students to stop unsafe or unkind behavior, but the next step is to let a teacher or other school employee know about the problem. If you are having trouble with a student or group you are supervising, let the teacher know immediately, and ask her how she'd like you to handle similar situations in the future. It is also important to understand the class rules so there are consistent behavior expectations for the students.
5. Be reliable and on time. The teacher will quickly come to rely on you and may be caught short-handed if you do not show up. Being reliable is important even for a one-time volunteer job like chaperoning a field trip. Teachers count on parents who have said they'll be there. If you absolutely can't make it, let the teacher know as far in advance as possible.
6. Don't gossip! While volunteering, you may occasionally overhear private information about other students' academic progress, family life or behavior. If you learn any sensitive info, be respectful and don't tell others.
7. If you work outside the home you can still help. If you want to help during the school day, you may be able to take time off from your job to do it. According to the California State Family Leave Act, "Employees who work for an employer with more than 24 employees can take up to 40 hours per year, no more than 8 hours a month, to participate in a child’s school activities. Eligible employees are required to use existing vacation, personal leave, or compensatory time for such leave. State employees who contribute to the State Disability Insurance Program are eligible for the same family and medical leave benefits as workers in the private sector. State employees may use a direct leave donation program. In California law, domestic partners have the same rights and responsibilities as spouses."  If you can't take time off from work or you have other daytime commitments, ask your child's teacher if he needs any assistance behind the scenes. He might ask you to help during non-school hours by calling other parents, preparing supplies for an art project or science experiment, setting up a computer data base, or editing student writing.
8. Prepare your child. Talk with your child before your volunteer day, and let her know that although you'll be in the classroom, you may not work directly with her. You might also remind her that she needs to listen to her teacher and follow directions, even when you are in the classroom. It is probably easiest to let the teacher handle disciplining your child during your volunteer time, although you can remind her to follow the rules just as you would another child. You'll be amazed how much you learn about your child's life at school, even while working with other students.
9. Have fun! Learn the names of the students you work with, and try to praise something they did well during your time together. Maybe they figured out a tough math problem, cooperated as a group, or listened to directions. The students will remember your compliment and be excited to see you next time.

Regardless of whether or not you are able to volunteer a little or a lot, every little bit matters and it matters most to our children!

No comments:

Post a Comment