Is the idea of having classroom volunteers in your upper elementary overwhelming to you? Fear not! Having families volunteer in your classroom is a great way to build community and help your students excel!
In upper elementary school, it is easy to write off having volunteers in your classroom, but that would be a mistake. Having family and friends volunteer in your classroom is a great way to build community, give your students a rich learning experience, and get more done in a day!
Do You Have Classroom Volunteers?
If you already have volunteers then you are ahead of the game, but if you don’t there is no need to worry. Often parents and family friends are hesitant to ask to come into a classroom but are still very willing to if asked.
How to ask for classroom volunteers:
- Put up a sign-up sheet at an open house or parent conference time
- Invite parents to volunteer in your newsletter or email
- Use an app, such as Remind, to encourage parents
Tips for making classroom volunteers feel welcome:
- Emphasize that there are many ways to help the classroom
- Have your students create a welcome card or sign
- Have a list of steps to take before volunteering
What Can Classroom Volunteers Do?
The question should be what can they NOT do? I have had volunteers do everything from plan a class party to make copies to work with a ready group. It all depends on what the volunteer feels comfortable doing. Some will ask to do behind the scenes tasks and others want to work with students directly. There is a place for all of them!
Behind the Scenes Tasks
One of the absolute most helpful things a classroom volunteer can do to help is take care of some of the tasks that take up time but aren’t difficult. Think making copies, laminating and cutting, changing out bulletin board displays, or organizing elements of the classroom.
One of my absolute favorite volunteer tasks is a family that would cut apart laminated math stations for me. I would laminate and roll it all up and send it home with a student and it would come back a couple of days later cut out and assembled. It was like magic!
Sharing Their Expertise
Families come from a variety of backgrounds and have so much to offer in the classroom. They should be invited to share their culture, their education, their careers, their travels, and anything else they feel comfortable sharing!
It is one thing to complete a STEM project, but it is a completely different experience to hear from an engineer about their career and how it is related to a project you are doing in school.
Families are often so happy to share their knowledge but don’t know how to ask. By asking regularly if anyone would like to share during a particular unit of study they are more likely to reach out.
Working with Students
There are many opportunities for classroom volunteers to work directly with students.
One of the absolute most powerful ways I have found to utilize volunteers in the classroom is to have them work with a small group. This task is one that is powerful for students and volunteers alike because students get to work with another adult aside from their teacher and the volunteer is able to see how the classroom functions as well as participate in the learning process.
Before a volunteer works with a small group I ask them to do a quick run through with me where we go over the topic of learning and I give a few pointers, but most of the time they are ready to jump right in!
What Are You Waiting For?
No need to delay! Jump right in and invite families into your classroom to volunteer. You won’t be sorry!
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