I believe that parent involvement in and outside of the classroom is very important. I think parents should be involved in their child's education. Does anyone have any good ideas for getting parents more involved? I plan to have an "open door policy" in my classroom when I begin teaching, but how can I get parents to be involved and volunteer in the room?

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I think to get parents involved in the classroom can be somewhat difficult just because most parents work during the school day.  But I think it would be a good idea to have an evening even for all parents and let them know about volunteer opportunities that are available. Also, you can let them let you know what times are best for them instead of you giving them times specific. Try to work around their schedules and see when they can make it in to help out.

I think this depends on the grade you teach. I know at school the younger grade parents come in for centers and in the upper grades parents come in and tutor, help with parties, etc. Since a lot of parents work, you could have a parent come in once a month to do an activity or read a book etc.
I think that getting parents involved is a great idea and I also think its a bit easier than what many perceive it to be. As long as you let your parents know what you are feeling about having them helping in the classroom and that you will be asking for a lot of parent volunteers throughout the year that parents are going to be more than willing to help. I know that many are very willing to help and want to but just are not given a sufficient amount of time to be able to do so. As long as you start talking to them in the beginning of the year and give enough time notice to add it to their schedule I am sure that you will have plenty of parents wanting and willing to help.
I just finished taking a "working with parents" class last semester and we actually had two classes dedicated to getting parents involved in the classroom.  My professor expressed that when she was teaching, she would send out letters at the beginning of the year about volunteering opportunities in her classroom.  It had basic questions asking things like, would you be interested in volunteering in the classroom this year and if so fill out information so she would be able to contact them when the time for volunteering would be needed.

Don't forget about the parents who can't come in because of work or other situations.  I think having a blog or wiki where you post about what is going on in the classroom, student work and educational links will help extend your classroom into the virtual space.  Getting parents to learn about the blog and make comments takes work (not a one night parent information sessions - I know from experience :)  ), but you could approach it as a way they can volunteer with your class.  Research shows that parents who talk with their kids about school tend to do better academically.  In fact, the research I read mentions that the conversations at home seem to show more correlation with academic achievement than having parents volunteer physically within the school.  Here is a link to a report that summarizes research in the area of parental involvement.

 

Good luck!

Great idea to involve parents but as a new teacher you should proceed with care when it comes to parents volunteering in your classroom and implement an "open door policy" gradually over time. Unfortunately, there are some parents who mean well but can actually be disruptive in the classroom and in some families one parent is not allowed to have contact with his/her child.

Make sure you check with school administration regarding background checks/ fingerprinting policies for volunteers and adults who will be spending extended time working with children in your classroom. Here in NY State my son had to be fingerprinted before starting his second year of college ( secondary science ed ) because they would be visiting schools and observing classes for an extended period of time during the upcoming semester.

When you first start teaching check with other teachers in your school regarding recommended parent helpers and you can recruit them directly rather then inviting everyone and finding yourself in an awkward situation where you may have to decline an offer of assistance.

Projects are a great way to get parents more involved at home. I have been using a 3D Memorial Project for several years and this provides a great opportunity for parents to work with their children. Several students have actually learned more about their family history and created a Memorial for a member of their family....

 

http://www.eltonjohnworld.com/coranto/news/2006/April/SittinginTheC...

 

http://chaseseventhsocialstudies.wikispaces.com/Memorial+Project

 

 

Having parents volunteer in the classroom is a great idea, but proceed with caution. First of all, you need to identify your reason for having parents in the classroom. Will they come in to simply observe? (which I would not recommend) Will they be there to provide general help? Will they have a specific assignment or task? Once you know "why" parents are coming to volunteer, you can think about "how" you want them to do it. 

 

I have had the most success with parents in the classroom when they are coming into do a specific task and have been given specific guidelines from me. For example, I might have a parent come in to staff a science center where kids are observing & drawing plants and need direction and guidance. Before coming in, I would give that parent a list of do's and dont's, questions they could ask the kids, etc. Things tend to run more smoothly this way.

 

I also want to second what Johnathan had to say - check with your school and find out the policies that govern parent/student contact. Many schools now put parents through some kind of background check before they are allowed to help in the classroom or go on field trips.

 

 

Again, like a number who have responded, I believe you need to be careful when asking for parent volunteers and having an "open door policy" in your classroom.  You need to define the intended purpose for parents to be in your classroom.  Often times, having more people in the classroom is not always advantageous and once they are in, how do you get them out.  You always stand the chance of having to be a teacher to the parents as well as the students.  If you require assistance in your classroom (ie. large numbers or special needs students) then it would be more appropriate to go through admin for help.  I think the bigger issue is not parents in the classroom, but parents engaged in their child's education.  The idea of wiki pages, blogs, etc to keep parents informed and up to date on projects, classroom acitivities, fieldtrips, and school functions, is more advantageous then actual bodies in a classroom.  I believe the goal should be keeping parents informed and involved in the education process.

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