Saturday, August 1, 2015

Parents Who Can't Come in– No Problem!

Hello Teachers! Well, the kiddos come back soon, so this is another post in my Start of School series.  Sort of like a Five for Friday, but my own Six for Saturday, so to speak.

Today I am sharing ideas for do-at-home jobs for parents who cannot come into school. It is my expectation that parents are involved in our classroom in some way, so if they can't come into school to help out, I encourage them to do something for us at home.

Every year I have a handful of ELL parents who would like to help out, but find it difficult to work with students in the classroom due to language challenges. Several of these jobs have proven to be welcome ways for ELL parents to participate without direct student interaction.

I describe each job at curriculum night and ask parents to sign up for as many tasks as they could do. The more parents who are available for a job the more flexibility I have in making sure everyone is happy. Most of the tasks can be shared by more than one person. Usually everyone ends up as involved as they like to be.

Also, all of these jobs are done from home. Although it may be handy to touch base at school, parents can do this without coming in, sometimes by using students as couriers.

1. Communication Parents  

In my class we have fresh fruits and vegetables for snack almost everyday. Parents supply these nutritious snacks. I have done snacks in my classroom this way for years and it works very well. You can read this post to learn details and how to make it work for you by clicking here.

One of the key components to the fresh fruit and veggie snack system is having a parent reminder system. The way we have our list divided, parents only need to send in every six to eight weeks. Because parents have this responsibility so seldom, it is easy to forget, so I have a parent who sends out a standard email on Friday afternoons to the two or three parents who are bringing in the following week. This timely email usually makes it into parent inboxes just in time to be part of the weekly trip to the grocery store. Sending out the email is an easy but valuable job for a parent who can't otherwise come into the classroom. They have to be very organized though, so they don't forget themselves!  I call this parent the "Communication Parent" because although their primary job is to send the weekly snack reminders, there are occasions when I ask them to send out to the parent list for other things. 

2. Book Doctors  

I teach kids how to handle and care for books, but even so, rips happen. I teach kids to put the book into the "Boo Boo Bin" which I send home every other week or as needed. At the beginning of the year I also send home a roll of clear packing tape to the parent so they have the right supply– I find it works as well as book tape and is a lot cheaper when I find it on sale at back to school time.

3. Play Dough Makers  

Ah, the old scented playdough... what kindergarten classroom would be complete without it. It needs to be kept in fresh supply though– all those little grimy fingers– so I have playdough makers who make it at home on a monthly basis. If I end up with more than one– and we really could use a couple of batches a month– then I have one send it in the first week of the month, and one the third week. I send home the recipe that calls for Kool-aid because it smells absolutely maaarvelous! Drop me a comment if you'd like it and if enough of you do, I'll make it downloadable. I've tried several and think I've found the best.

4. Party Parents 

Everyone likes to party, but we need the stuff. These parents send in party items three or four times a year. When I know the date and items, I send out a sign-up sheet to this group of parents via email and they each let me know what item they can send in, be it napkins, cookies, jug of juice, etc. Then I look in the backpacks for the supplies to arrive. 

5.  Boxtop/Labels Coordinators  

Our school participates in both the Labels for Education and Boxtops for Education programs– what school doesn't want free money and free equipment! My classroom coordinator gets the bags of labels that come in with students and counts and bundles them as needed. This is a job that happens about three times per year.  

6. Material Makers  

This parent job is mostly about cutting laminated materials, although sometimes assembly and stapling is involved. I send home materials as the need arises. The biggest factor that determines if stuff goes to a parent is how soon I need it. If I have my act together I know a week out which is enough turn around time. I have a fat cardboard tube and several very large envelopes that carry materials home and back by student courier. I always contact the parent ahead of time to give a heads up that stuff is coming.

Well, there you go! Six stay at home that classroom's can't do without. Less work for you and more connection with parents. Remember it is SO important for all kids to see their parent involved and supportive of school. I take the charge of helping this happen very seriously. Hope this post expanded your own list. See you soon for more in the Start of School Series!

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