Volunteering at your child’s preschool can be a great opportunity to see first hand what he or she gets to experience during the day, while providing some much needed assistance to their teacher. There are many opportunities for both working and stay-at-home parents to contribute to their child’s classroom.
1. Start With the Teacher
Communication with your child’s teacher is essential to maximizing your volunteer time.
“The teachers do the day-to-day activities so they really know their needs in the classroom,” explains Rachel Niemi, parent volunteer at Bethany Enrichment Center in Cuyahoga Falls.
Let the teacher know your availability and a few of your strengths so they can plan to put your time to best use.
2. Sit in on a Class
It can be difficult for small children to articulate what they do during the day, so joining your child in the classroom allows you to participate in their routine.
“Help with snacks and lunches or read a story,” says LaShonna Johnson, director of Westminster YMCA in Akron. “Any type of volunteering is helpful.”
3. Show Off Your Skills
Teachers need a variety of availability and skill sets from parents. Use your hobbies or job skills to enrich the class.
“For example, we had a parent who was an architect and she came in a did a demonstration of looking at plans and looking at the computer software that an architect might use. In that capacity, that parent was truly able to make an impact on our students,” says Alyson Charnas, director of early childhood learning at the Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood.
4. Participate in Special Events
Classrooms often need extra hands on deck for important days such as holiday parties, field trips and picture day.
“For picture day, we have parent volunteers come and help us get the kids’ hair ready and faces wiped down,” says Julie Van Duzer, program director at HOPE Early Care, operated by the Akron Area YMCA.
You can check your child’s calendar of events for opportunities or see if the classroom has a sign-up sheet for parents to participate.
5. Join the Board
If your schedule doesn’t allow time to volunteer during the day, or if it would be too disruptive for your child to have you in the classroom, consider joining a board or parents association.
“One of the biggest ways our parents help out in our school is to be a member of our parent organization, ” explains Samantha Meunier, director of Hope Ridge Preschool in Mentor. “This group organizes fundraising opportunities for the school, which they then use to help purchase larger ticket items.”
6. Bring Supplies
Kids go through a lot of materials during the year, so consider fulfilling a teacher’s supply “wish list,” or sign up to bring cookies and punch to the next holiday party.
“We have had parents spontaneously donate consumables — think paper towels, tissues, office supplies, etc. — which is tremendously helpful,” Meunier adds.
7. Serve After Hours
If you’re crunched for time during the week, ask if there are special projects on the weekends or in the evenings. If you’re the crafty type, offer to make props at home for an upcoming event. Or, see if the school needs help cleaning and storing items at the end of the school year.
8. Include Other Family Members
Volunteers don’t only have to be mom or dad. Grandparents and aunts or uncles can be great contributors to your child’s class, just make sure they’re properly registered with the school.