I've been a teacher. I am a parent. I understand what it's like to long for an increase in parent participation, and have struggled with figuring out how to jump in to help my child's teacher. We're busy. We feel unsure about what our child's teacher needs or wants. Perhaps the teacher last year was warm and open with parents, and this year he or she is more reserved. So often we want to help, but don't know what to do or where to start.
Many parents feel like the only way to help their child's teacher is by regularly volunteering in the classroom. While this is a wonderful way to contribute, there are many other ways to help — some without ever setting foot in the classroom! Every parent, regardless of his or her time constraints, resources, or giftings can help.
Your best option is always to communicate directly with your child's teacher (most prefer email!), and ask how you can get involved. However, I've provided a list of ways you can help your child's teacher both in and out of the classroom. You are your child's first teacher, and your role in your child's education is so important. Thank you for supporting your child's teacher.
Prepare Your Child to Learn
Helping your child be prepared to learn each day is one of the best ways to help a teacher. Making sure your child has a good night's rest, a healthy breakfast, and weather-suitable clothing helps the teacher by keeping distractions and disruptions to a minimum. Well-rested, well-fed, and comfortable kids will be more ready to learn, listen, and engage.
You can help your child's teacher by supporting the classroom homework. Homework is often sent home to either reinforce skills learned in the classroom or help the teacher gauge a child's understanding of presented material. Homework also helps develop responsibility. Set aside time each day for your child to work on it, and help create an environment conducive to working and learning. Offer help and check for understanding and mistakes, but never do your child's homework for him or her.
Communicate With Us
Keeping your child's teacher in the loop is critical. If something is going on at home or in your child's personal life that could affect him or her at school, let the teacher know. Understanding what is going on at home can help a teacher make better use of school resources, as well as provide insight about behaviors, patterns, and challenges observed.
Volunteer IN the Classroom
There are many ways to be involved in the classroom. Parents can chaperone field trips, work with small groups of students, lead an activity station, help with special projects, or work one on one with struggling students. Some parents may have a special skill, collection, or cultural activity to share or demonstrate. While many parents choose to volunteer more regularly, offering to help once or twice makes a big difference, too! Most teachers will not turn away an extra set of hands in the classroom. Ask your child's teacher how you can get involved.
Volunteer OUTSIDE of the Classroom
Many working parents, or parents with younger siblings at home, are unable to help in their child's classroom. However, there are many ways you can help your child's teacher from home. Volunteer to sort book orders, cut out letters or shapes for projects, prepare supplies for art activities, collate, staple, put together books -- the possibilities are endless. Most teachers spend their personal time completing many of these tasks, and would love a volunteer's help. Behind-the-scenes help is critical!
Join the conversation on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page and share your ideas for ways to help your child's teacher. Remember, you play a vital role in your child's education, and your child's teacher needs your support! Thank you for all you do.