Friday, August 7, 2015

Parent Zip-In Jobs and a Surprise Guest Blogger!

Okay, so today I push it to the limit– this is a Five for Friday post, a post for my Start-of-School series, AND a Funny Kid Friday with a guest blogger to boot! Hang on to your seats!

I tell parents at the start of the year that my expectation is for EVERY parent to be involved in the classroom. Yes, I love parents who can come in on a regular weekly or bi-weekly basis to lead a learning center, but even if a parent can't come in for a whole hour somewhere in the day, I have a classroom job for them. I call these, "Zip-In Jobs."

There is still time to incorporate these ideas into your classroom this year if you choose, no matter when you start back. Here we go with a post to my series–

1.  One Zip-In Job is First Fifteen. This is for a parent who can drop their child off at school at least once every other week. As the name implies, this work time is for the first fifteen minutes of the day as soon as kids take off their coats. These quick fifteen minutes are spent doing "booster activities" with individual children or a small group of kids. The parent might listen to kids read from their book baggie. Or read/trace from an alphabet book. Or maybe the time is spent counting. Fifteen minutes, sometimes even less, can give a valuable boost to kids who need very targeted practice. A First Fifteen parent can do this with several kids before our day even begins with morning meeting.

2. Another Zip-In Job is D.E.A.R Parent. After my kidpeople come in and get their coats and backpacks taken care they do D.E.A.R.– you know, Drop Everything And Read time. I have many collections of books- informational, puzzle/search, word books, author collections, magazines, as well as leveled readers and individual book baggies, so there is plenty of reading material even before everyone in my kindergarten class is "reading." I choose the collection for the day and kids choose from those bins...

...except on DEAR Parent day. On this day of the week a parent comes in and goes right to the carpet to greet kids as they settle there. She or he starts into the story as soon as there is a majority of kids on the carpet– added bonus is kids hustle through the coat hall on DEAR Parent mornings.  She or he usually reads just one book and we are ready to begin our meeting at our usual time.

3.  I also have Playful Parent. I know, I know, all parents should be playful. Well, my Playful Parents are any parents who can come during one designated period of the week. They don't need to sign-up for regular weekly or monthly visits, they just need to give me a heads up beforehand. I probably don't need to list all the great things kids learn by playing games, no matter what the game. However, with all there is to DO now in each day, I found my game teaching availability dwindling down to nothing and kids not learning any new games. This is where Playful Parents come in. Playful Parents spend forty five minutes teaching games from our game collection– common games like checkers or Candyland– it's surprising that kids don't know these, but I always have some who have never played. Or I have other great games like Zingo, Set, and Tenzis, and they can teach and play these. We've even played Mancala with great success. After kids have been taught they can usually play the games again later on their own. The Playful Period is during our regular Free Choice/Intervention time, usually within the last hour of the day.

4.  One more job that sort of falls under Zip-In is Field Tripper. I don't know about you, but as the years go by we are having a harder and harder time finding parents who can go on field trips. Field trips are essential to learning, and parent chaperones are essential to field trips. I get parents to start thinking about this at the beginning of the year. If there are parents who really can't come in to school during the day, but can take a day or half day off for a field trip (when I give them plenty of notice) I ask them to sign up for the Field Tripper job. All parents are invited to sign up for any field trip they choose, but those regular field tripping parents are the ones I'm going to go to most when the time comes.

5.  Today TWO Funny Kid Stories.

Sometimes it's kids who stand in the way of parents coming in. I had one little person tell her mom that she couldn't help out the class because she didn't have a "teacher voice" and the kids wouldn't listen to her. And another child told their mom she couldn't come in because she didn't have "eyes in the back of her head" like Mrs. Wright did. When the mom assured the tiny tot that she did have eyes like Mrs. Wright, the quick response was, "Well, they don't spark like hers do." Funny, no one else had ever noticed my sparks before...

And now a special surprise! Deb Maxwell from over at Not Very Fancy in 1st is guest blogging her funny kid story! Take it away, Deb.

The kids were in bed. I was just settling on the couch with a glass of wine when my 6 yr. old came downstairs. He informed me that he was searching for paper and something to write with because he had big plans for getting a lot of exercise the next day. He needed a pencil and paper to chart it out. (Yes, this is how my 6 yr old talks.) 

What are the chances that a teacher-mom would say no to this idea? He found them, and went back upstairs. 

A few minutes later he came back down because he needed help spelling the word "eat." I told him I don't spell words for first graders, even if the first grader is doing what they are supposed to be doing, and he was definitely not! He cried and stomped up the stairs.

A few minutes later he came down with a huge smile to tell me his schedule was made. I did my very best to keep a straight face and told him we could talk about it in the morning. He came over and read it to me anyway. Then he asked if it sounded good. I repeated that we would talk about it in the morning. He hung it on the refrigerator and went to bed.

As my sister said, what in the world I do without these kids to keep me entertained all the time. Life would be so dull.

Thanks so much for giving me a place to share my little anecdote.

Isn't it funny how kids can get so creative at BEDtime- snort. Thanks, Deb!

Look for my next Back-to-School Post. Find more under the "Start of Year" label on the right sidebar. This one will give suggestions for great Stay-at-Home Jobs for parents who really CAN'T come in to school at all.  Stay tuned.

Now off you go, back to Five for Friday. Thanks, Kacey!


  1. I love the way you incorporate parents into the classrooms. So many years I would stay away from volunteers because it was just a headache but these are some great ideas.

    Sara J Creations

    1. Thanks Sara. Hope at least a some work out in your classroom, too. Thanks for stopping by. Kathleen

  2. You have such great ideas for getting parents involved. I find so many parents want to help but can't commit to doing something weekly or monthly.

    1. Yes, it is easier when parents are regulars, but I've come to really appreciate some of the ways parents can be involved occasionally, too. Thanks for stopping by. Kathleen

  3. Hi Kathleen
    What great ways to encourage parents to be involved! Ideas for when I go back into the classroom... Thanks!
    Joya :)

    1. Hi Joya! Hope some work for you when the time comes. Thanks for love. Kathleen

  4. Thanks for a great post! I moved from a school with practically no parent support to a school with a good amount, and it was almost overwhelming having so many eager volunteers (a good problem to have, don't get me wrong!). These are all get ways to get parents involved...even if they don't have the proper teacher voice or eye sparks =)

    Kindergarten Teacher at the Wheel

    1. Hee. Hope these ideas work out for you, or spark some other ideas for jobs to do. Share if that happens! See you around. Kathleen


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