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Classrooms need parents: Tips for being the best volunteer ever!

School volunteer feature
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The role of a school volunteer is not one to be taken lightly. Did you know that you can use your special skills to really make a difference?

A school is not an island – the important role of the school volunteer

It takes a village to raise a child and this is certainly true when it comes to schools.

Schools need volunteers. The generosity of people giving their time has a ripple effect which flows through every part of the school.

Volunteering increases student achievement. It promotes student’s self-esteem, creates positive behaviour, contributes to individualised programs for students and impacts attendance. Why? Children love to see mum, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunty, uncle, big brother or sister, taking the time to come to school and help them and their class. Without you knowing it, all the above happens just because you made the time to volunteer.

Volunteers in the classroom and in the school can undertake many differing roles. Have you thought of:

Being a class co-ordinator.

This role brings the class parent body together and helps to sharing information for the class. A class co-ordinator can organise play dates during the holidays or in the afternoon.

Ripple effect: develop relationships between students, and parents get to know one another.

Share your expertise in cooking, craft, music.

Deepening cultural awareness in students. Sharing stories of yesterday technology. Story telling! The parent body of a school contains much expertise, and sharing your knowledge adds to the holistic development of children, which quite often sparks an interest for the future.

Ripple Effect: Rich experiences for the students.

Laminating or making resources at home.

Providing resources for the classroom reduces a teacher’s workload.

Ripple Effect: Many hands make light work!

Being a marshal.

Being a marshal at sporting carnivals, a trainer for cross country, an instructor during a swimming lesson, a server at tuckshop, a stall convenor or helper at the school fete, a member or committee member of the P& F. Many activities at a school cannot happen without the help of many people, this is the village in action.

Ripple Effect: Building a vibrant, caring community.

As a parent volunteering at school:

You are kept informed about what is happening at school and in your child’s classroom. This builds conversation between you and your child. It also helps you develop an understanding of your child’s teacher and their teaching style.

  • You learn the language and skills of learning, which will support your child at home. With an increased knowledge of the curriculum, homework will be a breeze!
  • You see your child in a different social setting and become familiar with your child’s class members. When your child talks about their friends, you will know who they are referring to.

How to be the greatest volunteer EVER…

  • Arrive 5 mins before so that you can be briefed on your role in the room.
  • Be reliable.
  • Know the class routines and the expectations of the class teacher.
  • Use these routines and expectations when working with the students.
  • Learn the students’ names.
  • Use positive words.
  • Be confidential. “What happens in the classroom stays in the classroom.”
  • Volunteering is about taking students forward, not a means to obtain a bench mark for your child.

How will you know what to do?

Maybe it’s the case that you would love to volunteer but the school environment is a little daunting? The school volunteer is a valued position and schools will hold information sessions to support parents in specific roles. These sessions address the importance of confidentially, how the school is run and organised and values the school wants to uphold.

Who benefits the MOST if you’re a school volunteer?

What do the students think about it all?

“I am happy when my mum comes to my class to read a story. All my friends tell me how helpful she is.”

“My dad volunteered to teach a lesson in geology and his company provided the samples we experimented with.  We learnt about a type of employment and the expectations of a company. I was proud of my dad”

“The best time of my school life was when our parents helped out at the fete. We got to set up and then at the end of the day we played with lots of other kids while everyone packed up.”

“I like going to Working Bees with mum and dad.  I feel really good when I do something to help out my school. The other parents thank me for my help.”

Why wait? Become a school volunteer!

Why not contact your child’s school and find out the various ways you can volunteer? Your school and your child will be grateful!

Written by Denise Child, from St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School, Upper Mount Gravatt.

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