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Hey gang.  It's Kelley Dolling from Teacher Idea Factory!  I am super excited to be over here . . . causing just a little trouble on the Blog Hoppin' site today.  I must admit that I was racking my brain trying to come up with a savvy back to school topic to share will all you alls.  Like seriously stressin' for a few days. However, my problem was quickly solved when a sweet email from Nancy entered my inbox.  She kindly requested a little insight into the whole parent volunteer thing as she gets oodles of helpers every year.  Uh, Nance . . . you're brilliant.  Thanks for the idea and here you be . . . a little post dedicated to classroom volunteers!  

I don't know about all you alls, but parent volunteers can be tricky to manage. In all honesty, they make my upper lip sweat a little.  Over the years I have definitely figured out what works for me.  Thought I'd toss it out there meatball-style for you to peruse. 
  • How do you get 'em to sign up? - I put out sign up sheets during the Meet The Teacher event as well as Back to School Night (some of you call this Open House, I think).  The sign up sheet gives me some wiggle room as to where to schedule each parent.  Want a copy?  Sure!  It's part of my For Your InFORMation Packet filled with editable back to school forms, letters, and such.  However, I'm gonna toss it up here for free cuz you are in a very special place today . . . Blog Hoppin'!
The first version is a note that I use with my new crew every year.  
The second is more generic.
The third is editable.  Just drop in a text box and start typing!
  • When do you start parent volunteers? - I really want my kids to feel comfortable with me and learn my "lines" before I ask for parents to come in.  You know how tight of a ship you have to run during those first few days together!  I have found that it is so much easier to start 2 weeks after you get the back to school ball rolling.  All I can say here is don't feel pressured.  Jump on in when the timing is right for you.
  • When do you roll with parent volunteers (days + times)? Obviously, this is what works for you and your classroom.  However, just in case you were dying to know . . . I run with parents during the AM hours ONLY!  What can I say?  I like my babes ALL TO MYSELF in the afternoon.  Parents in my room come in from about 8:20 (school starts) to 11:15 (lunch recess). That takes us through Good Morning Work, reading groups, and a whole class writing period.
  • How many do I take each year? - You get those years where you have 12 volunteers and others where you have two.  Right??!!  I let 'em all come. However, my limit is 2 per day (I definitely prefer one, but sometimes the cookie just doesn't crumble my way).  It gets WAY too noisy and stressful for me if more than 3 adults are in my room.  I get all paranoid {silly, but oh so true}.  On those years where you have more helping hands than you can handle, I suggest assigning every other week to parents.  It makes it much more manageable!  
  • What do you have the volunteers do? - I love to have the volunteer for the day start off by pulling those kids who NEVER read at home or who are really struggling with those nightly phonics readers.  It's a great time for a little extra one-on-one support!  They also help correct Good Morning Work or sit with kiddos who are having a tough time.  Next, we transition into groups.  I always read the parents and give them something that I know they can handle. Usually, they play a reading game or monitor an activity that needs a little extra support. 
  • How do you tell them what to do? - Usually, I am able to catch them in the morning before the kids come in and I give them a verbal rundown.  All of the TPT games and/or activities I make (or others create) seem to always come with a direction sheet.  I put that in the helper bin with all the supplies they need for the rotation.  I ask them to read it over before their first group comes.  The parents also hear me outline the center with the kids during morning meeting.  They know to snag me and ask questions if they aren't quite clear on something.  
  • What do you tell them about discipline?  I let my parents utilize my Super Student Buck System (they give money) and I allow them to use my clip chart (move kids up or down).  However, you can bet your bottom dollar that I am watching like a hawk and will step in when necessary.
Yikes!!!  Look at that cover **sigh**  It's on the re-design list.
The content is good, I swear . . . and it's free.
Just in case you wanted to check out my Super Student Buck System :)
  • What do you do if they overstep?  Sigh . . . this one makes me twitch. Parents who "overstep" and correct kiddos during whole class time are a killer.  I typically don't get these as I strive to address this BEFORE they ever get a group.  On those rare occasions, I do chat with a parent about "why" I may let some behaviors go.  Usually, I wait until the next time they are in so I don't sound like a scolding parent :)   

Alright, my dear friends.  There it is in a nutshell . . . Parent Volunteers in Casa de Dolling.  If you have any questions or would like to share a little tip or trick that you utilize with parent helpers, I'd love to hear it!  Thanks so much for taking the time to visit us today.


  1. Thank you, Kelley. It's always great to hear what's going on in other classrooms. Enjoy the rest of our short, short summer!

  2. Love all of this Kelley! Thanks for the freebie too.

  3. Handling parent volunteers can be such a slippery slope! Awesome post!!

  4. You're awesome! :) Thanks for the little freebie, too!

  5. Thanks for the tips... I am definitely going to use and share! I also have a freebie to help with many of these issues in my tpt store: Volunteer Management Tools
    Dirt Road Teacher

  6. 12 wow... I beg and maybe get one but I do have parents who will help at home.:) I know the management for having a lot must be challenging though!

  7. I have always had 1-2 solid volunteers per year and a bunch of hit and miss helpers. I work in a high Spanish speaking community and some of my parents speak little or no English. Sometimes giving directions is difficult but we always seem to make do. I have two issues though; parents who help too much and parents who want to bring younger siblings with them when they volunteer.