Having preschool volunteers in your classroom is a great opportunity for a preschool program! You may want to consider inviting family members to volunteer as well as High School students who are in an Early Childhood Program!
Families are the primary teachers of their children and having them in the classroom helps the child to see the connection between home and school. It also provides the families the opportunity to see what happens in a typical preschool day and may help them learn new ways to teach and guide their children!
Inviting a student volunteer (high school or college) provides an additional set of hands for you in the classroom and a hands-on experience for the intern! (Student volunteers should NOT be counted as part of the ratio. More on that on the Student Volunteer page!).
Many teachers are nervous about having parents or students in the classroom as volunteers. Sometimes we worry that they are watching us and "grading" us in their heads. Guess what? THEY ARE!
For families, this is a great opportunity for them to see you in action with their child. For students, this is a great opportunity to compare what they've been taught with how other teachers teach!
Also remember, they are nervous, too! They are worried that their child will act out when they are there and embarrass them. They are worried that you are "grading" them as parents!
Students worry that you are judging them. They worry that you are grading them (well, because you ARE...you will have to give an assessment to their professor!).
There a many tasks a volunteer can help with!
Some tasks may be out of the classroom (cutting or laminating games, gathering supplies) or in the classroom (helping at circle time, sharing what they do for work with the children, helping with art or in interest centers).
There is much to consider when planning for volunteers in your classroom.
Before inviting a volunteer to help in your classroom, talk with your Director to find out what your program and state/county policies are.
If you are the Director, develop a policy BEFORE inviting a volunteer into your program.
1. Safety Regulations
For safety reasons, there are many states that regulate such things as criminal record checks, requiring handbooks and more.
Most states have a requirement that all preschool volunteers must pass a Criminal Record Check prior to working in the classroom with the children. This is important. If your program, state or province does not have this rule, put it in place as one of your preschool program policies
Check your local and state regulations for guidance in drafting a policy.
2. Volunteer Expectations
Preschool volunteers need to know what you expect from them. They need to know what they should and should not do in a classroom! Include information on your behavior guidance policy, who they report to, toileting policy, etc.
3. Volunteer Specific Policies
You should have a volunteer policy for parents and one for student interns. With student interns, you will have the responsibility to report to the student's program/supervisor as well as to the director of your own program.
If you do not have separate policies, I suggest meeting with your director about developing one for each.
You are welcome to use any of the formats here as well!
Having a policy for preschool volunteers is vital. Having clear expectations helps the volunteers and the teachers know what they are and are not responsible for before they enter the classroom. This will help your classroom run smoothly and prevent confusion.
Writing your policy or policies will require considering the items above as well as having forms for observing, evaluating and reporting the outcome of the volunteer experience.