This article first appeared on Working Mums Collective and was later re-published in the Mornington Peninsula Kids Magazine with permission.
Here are my first tips!
1. Collect recyclable and craft items to donate to the classroomAsk the teacher if they have a ‘making box’, or if there is anything particular that they need (bottle top lids are great for alphabet letters, various cardboard boxes and tubes are great for design and technology, I use meat trays or other plastic containers for paint).
2. Cutting out, laminating, gluing, sorting and other general lesson preparationThese are quite tedious jobs for the teacher to do, so an extra pair of hands cutting out pictures, shapes, templates or art work is a huge help. And don’t feel that you need to take the whole pile! Even just a few make a big difference. Either pop in to the classroom to pick things up, or ask the teacher to send them home with the child over the weekend for you to do.
3. Contacting/Covering Readers/BooksIf the school purchases brand new take home readers, chances are they’ll want them to be contacted to keep them in good condition – this is another really useful job you can do from home. You could also offer to mend any damaged readers or books once a term.
4. Attend ExcursionsTry and find out when excursions (and other significant events) are booked for and organise a day off so that you can attend. Even if you can’t assist in the classroom on a weekly basis, most working mums can book the odd annual leave day to help out on a class excursion. Believe me – one teacher with 28 children at the zoo is impossible! The more parent helpers - the better!
5. Parent Information Nights & InterviewsSome schools will have evening events scheduled such as parent information nights/interviews, twilight picnics, or Christmas concerts which are other important dates to have in your diary and will keep you in the loop of what’s happening at the school.
6. Be organised!There are so many things that happen in a school term – dress up days, special lunch orders, library day, PE day, etc. Keep a schedule, whiteboard or calendar somewhere in your home where you’ll be able to keep track of them all. If you aren’t going to be in the classroom week to week you many not see reminders for such things on the whiteboard, windows or notice boards.
7. Share your interests with the teacherIf you have a special skills eg cooking or music, organise a mutually convenient time for you to contribute to the class. Or you may have some ‘themed’ resources at home that you would like to lend (eg some interesting sea shells for an ‘Under the Sea’ unit).
8. Become a member of the ‘Parents and Friends Committee’This role will probably only require you to attend a meeting once a term in the evening. You may also be able to become involved with fundraising, barbeques, etc as well as discussing important school issues that affect your child.
9. Find out if the school or class has a website or blogWe had one this year for Reception and it worked really well. It was a chance for parents to see photos of what the children had been doing at school.
10. Communication with the teacherIf you aren’t able to regularly see the teacher before or after school due to your work hours, find out their best mode of communication – email, notes in the student diary or phone calls.
Finally, I thought I might mention, if you are able to do the morning drop off before work or the afternoon pick up after work – here are some other ways you might be able to assist in the classroom...
• sharpening pencils
• cleaning tables
• listening to children read
• take down/put up art work
• and I’m sure there are many more suggestions that your child’s class teacher can give you.
We heart parent helpers!
Best of luck this year,