Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Getting Families Involved in Math Education Part 5

Welcome to my six part series on getting you Math Message Out to Parents!

If you are new to this series, we are taking a look at this book:

Today we are going to talk about classroom volunteers

Big ideas from the book
- Parent volunteers get a chance to observe ideas and strategies that have been discussed at open house and in newsletters
- They get the chance to see how different kids approach the same problem.
- Although it can be tough for teachers to have parents observing them, it gets easier with time.  
- Using a learning center structure seems to work best for utilizing volunteers.
- It is getting challenging to have a weekly commitment as more parents are in the work force full time. Other options are explored.
- BE ORGANIZED and SPECIFIC about what the volunteers should be doing and what the expectations are.

Here is a great quote that really sums up the chapter
" Perhaps most important to the success of a volunteer program, the teacher has to put thought into what the volunteers will be doing and find a way to communicate those plans and expectations."
Clip art by Illumismart

How I use classroom volunteers to get families involved
- I like to start early.  This means I do a lot of recruiting for parent volunteers at Kindergarten information night and open house.  The kindergarten teacher I work with is very open to having volunteers in the classroom and her attitude goes a long way towards making parents feel welcome and useful.
- I like to have a training night for parent volunteers.  I open this up to families with young children as a chance to get to know more about our math program, how many works in our school and how they can help their child with homework.  It also gives me another chance to meet with parents of young kids and put the idea of volunteering out again.  From this night we usually get some volunteers.
- Weekly commitments used to be the norm where the same parents would come in every Wednesday for example and stay for an hour.  This is less and less likely to happen now and I think it is time for our school to explore other options.  
- I would like to set up a shorter commitment period to get more parents back into the classrooms, especially in the older grades.  It might look like; Grade ___ is doing geometry stations every Friday in March.  Would you like to run a station or do you have a geometry activity to share?  Then a checklist of the dates so parents could sign up to volunteer one or more times that month.

This is a place where I am looking for new ideas.  If you have a post or an idea about getting parents involved as classroom volunteers, please respond in the comments below!

Want to check out all 6 parts, here they are!
Part 1: Newsletters 
Part 2: Open House
Part 4: Homework


  1. I love my parent volunteers. There's only so much of me to go around, so they work with kids. It kind of makes me cringe when I see parent volunteers copying or cutting in the teacher's workroom. Anyway, mine have certainly been helping a lot with math too.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. It is great to see parents in the classroom working with kids. Many of them have skills that extend well beyond prep duties.