There is much to consider when planning for classroom volunteers in your program. For safety reasons, there are many states that regulate such things as criminal record checks, requiring handbooks and more.
Before inviting a volunteer to help in your classroom, be sure to consider not only your program needs, but also your state/county regulations.
Volunteers will benefit your program greatly when expectations are clear. You should also develop a Classroom Volunteer Policy for both parent and student volunteers to clarify the volunteer and the teacher's roles.
Having volunteers in the preschool 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!
Let's first look at the many benefits to having classroom volunteers in your program.
The Importance of Classroom Volunteers
Parent Classroom Volunteers
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!
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!
Before a parent volunteers in the classroom, consider having a Parent Volunteer Handbookfor them to read that will let them know what to expect as a volunteer and what their responsibilities are.
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 classroom's ratio. More on that on the Student Volunteer page!).
It also provides you with additional responsibilities such as observing the student volunteer and filling out observation forms as well as end of semester evaluations.
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!).
Classroom volunteers need to know what you expect from them. They need to know what they should and should not do in a classroom!
You should have a volunteer policy for parents and one for student interns. If you do not, consider developing one. You are welcome to use any of the formats here as well!
Also, 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 part of your preschool program policies.
Tasks That Classroom Volunteers Can Help With
There are many tasks classroom volunteers can help with. Think about the times you or your teachers wished they had an extra set of hands! Inviting volunteers to help in those areas benefit the program greatly!
Some tasks may be out of the classroom such as:
Cutting or laminating games
Some tasks may be in the classroom tasks such as:
Helping at circle time.
Sharing what they do for work with the children
Helping with an art activity
Interacting with the children during interest centers.
We Have (or want to utilize) Classroom Volunteers...Now What?!
GREAT! Now, you need to put your needs and expectations in writing. Here are some articles that will help you to develop the policies and processes you'll want to put in place now for the different types of volunteers!
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