Volunteering in school - what do you do? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 19 Old 09-21-2010, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I mean literally? Sharpening pencils? Finding materials? Helping some of the kids with assignments? Sitting still and watching?

DH's teacher said she very much likes and appreciates when parents come to the school. Come anytime. Just say when, or even just show up. But the parents must help out. Fair enough. So I asked her with what. And she said everything, anything except just sitting and watching. A parent sitting there just watching, the kids think it is odd and don't like it. Then we had a big meeting about 50 million other things, and I never got to ask her what the parents actually do.

So, if you volunteer at your child's school, what exactly do you do?

FYI: DS is in 0 class. Sort of like kindergarten or 1st grade. If that makes a difference.
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#2 of 19 Old 09-21-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I volunteer in my DS's first grade classroom one or two days a week. My job is having the kids read their daily book to me. I help them if needed, and then I write some notes about how it went for the teacher. I will also be helping out in the library starting this week. They need an extra hand with the kindergarten classes. It should be fun.

I suppose you will just assist in whatever the teacher needs done. It might be helping kids spell words for writing assignments, or sounding out words, or cutting, etc. There will be lots to do I'm sure.
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#3 of 19 Old 09-21-2010, 06:59 PM
 
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aaaaaaah!!! volunteering in class is much different than volunteering in school

volunt. in class lasts K and 1st. not much after that.

i did quite a bit in K and 1.

here is what i did

- filed
- laminated
-copied
- organised paperwork
- got project work ready
- yup sharpened pencils, coloured pencils
- worked with the kids who were behind (most of my time this is what i did in k)
- gave individual test
- read story out to kids
- do a science project/talk
- do an art project/talk (more in k when they didnt really have that great an art program)
- helped with hw corrections (this is mostly what i did in 1st grade)
- helped kids finish their project work
- helped during art class
- since i was there i would also hang with the kids during recess in the classroom (many stayed back to 'party' with me - however i was fingerprinted so i could be alone with the kids)

others that i have done

- oversee lunch
- oversee playground
- help with certain 'nights' like movie night - do snacks, help set up/take down
- help library - again organise
- help any other teacher who needs any kind of help (mostly to get things organised)

they never, ever ran out of things to do.

if i wanted to volunteer from home i could check hw, tear out and staple decodable books.

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#4 of 19 Old 09-21-2010, 07:45 PM
 
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Hmm. Varies. First of all, dd1's school requires 2 hours/week per kid. We've chosen to make that two hours a week in the classroom (parents who aren't comfortable in the classroom can do other stuff). So sometimes it's random clerical stuff--I made the class jobs chart! --or maybe helping out with the kids when they're working on stuff in class. It's a multi-age classroom (K-3) and sometimes they do stations--so having an adult to help oversee different stations is an option.

Mostly it's up to the teacher. Because she knows when she has parents coming, she can factor that into her lesson plan for the day.

ETA - the school is K-6, so we'll be doing classroom volunteering until dd goes to Junior High, providing we stay with the school.

Mom of two girls.
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#5 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 12:56 AM
 
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As a classroom volunteer I have:

*done office work (copying, filing, sharpened pencils, fixed staplers, ect.)
*run a book club
*given spelling tests
*been read to/given reading "conferences"
*supervised/set out a math challenge
*answered questions while the kids were working on math
*taped crysalises to the top of a butterfly cage
*taught art
*put together books/scrapbooks
*played games
*run a science station
*cooked dumplings
*made sushi
*cleaned up guinea pig poop

And the list goes on.

It really depends on the teacher. Some teachers only want you to do grunt work (I find grunt work relaxing, so I don't mind to be honest). Other ones want you to actually teach mini units (fun, perhaps not the most relaxing thing in the world). Sometimes you get to be instructional assistant or small group leader. Sometimes everything.
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#6 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 04:37 AM
 
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I've volunteered for both the class and the school but always for specific activities.

In DS' pre k/k class I drove and chaperoned a few class trips, brought cookies and treats to class parties, and was the book mom

In DS' kindy class for the semester we were abroad I chaperoned various class trips and read almost daily with the kids (they had a desperate need for parent volunteers to help the kids read).

In DS' first grade class I helped with reading twice a week, took kids on various activities, baked for class events

For the school I've helped out with Field Day/Sport day, cleaned the classroom at the end of the year, helped out with the walk-a-thon, helped wrap Christmas gifts, volunteered at the Summer festival, and came in three mornings for the creative days.

I do a lot, but my work schedule is flexible and I also enjoy how much DS likes me being there. In a few years, I know that won't be the case, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts!
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#7 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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I would let a teacher know when I was able to come in for a few hours, and the teacher would come up with jobs for me - much like the lists you've already been given. Sometimes I was making copies or something in the office, but more often I'd be busy in the back of the classroom. I made no secret of the fact that I referred to this as "Spy on the Teacher Day", and none of them minded. It was wonderful to see how the teacher interacted with the kids, and how my sons interacted with other students.

If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.

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#8 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 03:27 PM
 
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I usually go to my son's class about once a week and I have for KG, 1st and now 2nd. I was originally planning to go in with my own lesson plan, etc. (I teach at the college level) but I have a friend who teaches KG and she said, sometimes they just need someone to cut out shapes.

So, I generally say, you have me for this much time and I will do anything you like except that I strongly prefer to do it in the classroom. I am also spying on the teacher, LOL. I have done:

cutting out shapes
folding paper for journals
making various creative snacks
listened to kids read out loud
helped with learning how to make letters
helped with "center time" - as the kids move around the room doing different stuff
run my own math games

It helps a lot to volunteer on a regular basis so the teacher knows I am really going to show up and I can actually help and relate to the kids. For both KG and 1st, I started with something more like cutting stuff out or just doing the same thing the teacher was doing and by the end of the year, I often brought my own activity. That was my preference though - I'm sure I could have continued to do whatever the teacher wanted.
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#9 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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DS is in a school where a parent, grandparent, adult is required to volunteer half a day a week (or equivalent hours in school-related things after-hours, if you've been in more than one year and have multiple children) in the classroom.

What have I done? Well, since this is a requirement at DS's school, the teachers plan us right into the lesson plans and have a table in the classroom specifically for us where we can find our projects.

For DS's class, we were told our first priority is *always* the kids. So, if she is doing a full-group activity/presentation, one of us is expected to be sitting near the children watching and intervening in any distracting behaviors. (warning kids who poke a neighbor, etc.)
The other adult(s) who are present (there are always 2-3 parents in the class at any given time) might be working on other projects. (list to come)

If the children are sitting at the tables working on an activity or if they are having free-choice time, unless we are instructed to do otherwise, all adults are expected to be interacting with the children. This might be joining in a game or something for free choice, or walking around seeing which children need help with their work, making sure that we spread out of course. (no 2 adults at one table and nobody somewhere else.) if it happens that nobody needs help really, you're there to observe and interact without distracting them away from their work.

We go out to recess and supervise the playground, all adults go unless asked to do otherwise. We go with them to their 'special' classes-library, art, etc.

DS's class also has rest time after lunch. During this time, we are supposed to see if anyone has work they didn't finish and help them, or work on 'projects'

Projects: Cutting stuff out, coloring things possibly for a bulletin board, making copies, filing items in the "Monday folders". The other day I taped strings for a stringing activity they'll be doing this week. Basically it's all stuff for future class activities.

If I were going to volunteer at another school that didn't prepare for it, I would ask for either a specific time that I could come and work with students, or for specific projects that I could do to help the teacher. I would not want to be simply sitting back observing, I agree that kids get distracted by that easily, and if I'm going to take the time to volunteer, I want to make a difference in the class.

lovin DH since 1/04, SAHM to 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), and one 13 wk (10/13) just your average :ha ng multigenerational living family!!
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#10 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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Whatever the teacher found helpful:

- supervised while s/he stepped out to the office or provided one-to-one instruction
- supervised field trips
- reading stories
- tutoring
- office/paperwork (photocopying, collating etc.)
- crafts
- gardening with the class
- baking with the class
- science experiments
- lectures in my area of knowledge
- edited writing samples with the students
- organized the debate club
- career day talks

I've also done lots of volunteer work in school libraries, fundraisers, lunchroom.....

The teacher probably has specific tasks in mind, but if you have some ideas of your own, I wouldn't hesitate to offer. I have a friend who is an artist and runs a small clothing business. She used to do all sorts of art and sewing projects with the class. A physician brought in models of human anatomy (e.g. knee joints). A film director/producer did a workshop on screenplays and filming a movie. My kids have been lucky to go to schools with enthusiastic parent populations and lots of community involvement.
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#11 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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I am class parent for ds2's first grade class, meaning that I help with communciation between the teacher the other parents - arranging drivers for field trips, gathering supplies, or whatever comes up. So far it hasn't been much of anything.

I work in the 1st grade class once a week doing math stations.

I also serve lunch 1-2x week.

Our teachers all had very specific requests and time slots for helping out, and I don't think any of them just wanted a parent hanging around. But, the school always needs volunteers to work in the library, assist the art teacher, work the drop off/pick up lane, etc. But again, you sign up for these things, you don't just show up.
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#12 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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DD just started kindergarten and I went yesterday and spent an hour in the library helping kids find books and checking them out. It was fun!
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#13 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post
aaaaaaah!!! volunteering in class is much different than volunteering in school

volunt. in class lasts K and 1st. not much after that.

i did quite a bit in K and 1.

here is what i did

- filed
- laminated
-copied
- organised paperwork
- got project work ready
- yup sharpened pencils, coloured pencils
- worked with the kids who were behind (most of my time this is what i did in k)
- gave individual test
- read story out to kids
- do a science project/talk
- do an art project/talk (more in k when they didnt really have that great an art program)
- helped with hw corrections (this is mostly what i did in 1st grade)
- helped kids finish their project work
- helped during art class
- since i was there i would also hang with the kids during recess in the classroom (many stayed back to 'party' with me - however i was fingerprinted so i could be alone with the kids)

others that i have done

- oversee lunch
- oversee playground
- help with certain 'nights' like movie night - do snacks, help set up/take down
- help library - again organise
- help any other teacher who needs any kind of help (mostly to get things organised)

they never, ever ran out of things to do.

if i wanted to volunteer from home i could check hw, tear out and staple decodable books.
I've done many of these, too. Except for the copier. I have a black touch with copy/fax machines. I can break them by being in the same room with them too long.
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#14 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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At DS's school I have:
  • helped with art projects that get done out side the classroom
  • helped walk the students from activity to activity during the fun fair

I have seen other parents:
  • listening to students read
  • running activity stations during the fun fair

Timmy's Mommy WARNINGyslexic typing with help of preschooler, beware of typos
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#15 of 19 Old 09-24-2010, 08:22 AM
 
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I only volunteer in class occasionally, usually with special events like parties (pass out the snacks, help with the craft, etc). I volunteer in the *school* on the days when I telecommute---I use my lunch break to help supervise their lunch. Lots of helping kids open their Thermos bottles and so forth.
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#16 of 19 Old 09-25-2010, 11:33 PM
 
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In my dd2's co-op preschool, you are required to work at least once every 6 weeks or so in the classroom.

For dd1's elementary school, one of the kindy teachers loves to have help in the classroom. It can be helping with reading to the students, as the year goes on, listening to the child read. Xeroxing, cutting up stuff for future assignments, manning an art table, science table etc. I cannot wait to do it again next year for dd2. Its a great way to get to know the kids you child goes to school with as well. I also during snowy weeks, came in and helped all the kids undress their winter gear in the morning and came in 10 minutes before the end of the day and helped dress up in their coats etc. 23 pairs of snowpants, boots, mittens etc and all wet. Had to be hung on their racks, put on the heater to dry etc. Crazy.

Now with 3rd grade as well as 1st grade a few years ago, I do the teachers' copying for them. Its pretty quick, less than a 1/2 hour and I can see what the kids are doing in class.

I am also a room parent plus the PTA room parent person.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#17 of 19 Old 09-25-2010, 11:37 PM
 
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I'm not able to volunteer this year, but my third graders teacher actually invites parents to assist in one-on-one and small group work for math, reading, art, etc. I'm sure she appreciates things like pencil sharpening too.

Laura, mama to J (15), N (12), E (9) , M (6), and our little caboose, R (3).
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#18 of 19 Old 09-26-2010, 12:06 AM
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My dd is in kindergarten. Families are required to do 40 volunteer hours for the school year. Right now I'm playground helper which is great b/c I can bring my toddler along. Some of the other things the teacher asks for are someone to come wash dishes at the end of the day, someone to take home the laundry weekly (they use cloth napkins and also the cleaning rags), someone to come and help chop veggies on soup day, someone to come along on the weekly walk.

J, mama to H (8/05) and F (3/09)
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#19 of 19 Old 09-26-2010, 01:49 PM
 
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I have/currently
- Coordinate parties
- Set up/cleaned up parties
- Served Ice Cream
- write the monthly class newsletter
- compile the class list
- assisted with picture day
- taken supplies to the class and assisted the students with decorating cookies. (this was something I wanted to do in the class)
- read to the students
- made the class project (a quilt) that was sewn at auction)
- assist with field trips

+ + =
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