5 Tips for Using Parent Helpers in the Classroom

There are so many things to do in a classroom! So many things that require a teacher's attention at the same time. Do you ever wish you could clone yourself? Or maybe even add a few Go-Go Gadget arms to your body?! I know I do! It sure would be helpful to make sure everything is getting done and all of the student's needs are being met. Enter parent helpers. I will tell you that the number one most helpful thing for a teacher is parent helpers in the classroom. I am really excited to share with you how parent helpers have made my teaching life so much easier. Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of using parent helpers in the classroom.

Make the most of parent helpers in the classroom this year with these 5 helpful tips and tricks you can put into practice today!

How to Ask for Help

As teachers, asking for help is a skill that we need to acquire quickly. There is no task too big or too small for parent helpers in your classroom. 

I like to ask for help right off the bat at the beginning of the school year. I'll send out a form in an email and also have it available at an open house. I'll discuss all of the different ways to help and the time commitment that comes with each. 

Some parents may just want a simple job like prepping folders, while others may be more comfortable actually working with students. So, don't be afraid to ask for help where you need it. You won't know unless you ask!

Don't be afraid to ask for help from parent helpers at the beginning of the year, during parent teacher conferences, or back to school night.

And . . . don't forget those parents who want to help but might not be able to come to the classroom.  There are many activities that a parent could do at home that would still help you. Whether it is stapling readers, prepping folders, or sharpening a gazillion pencils, by being flexible you just might get more help. Let parents know that some activities can be done at home. You can hand off supplies at pick-up time or leave them in the front office with detailed instructions to complete the task. 

Check Your Policies

One quick note before we move on, make sure to check your policies! Different schools may have different policies on visitors like what hours they are permitted to be at school, what type of materials they are allowed access to, or how many hours a week they are allowed to volunteer. It really just depends on your school. Be sure to check in with your administrators and look over your school policies before you ask for parent volunteers. That way, you will be able to plan your time with your parents in the most effective way.

Parent Helpers in the Classroom

Parents can be super helpful! Often times they are chomping at the bit to be able to spend some time with their child at school and help out any way that they can. There are so many different ways to involve them that are beneficial to you as well! Here are a few of my favorite things to ask for help with. 

1. Preppers

Oh, the prep work! Think of how much time you could get back if you didn't have to make copies, staple papers, and put packets together. 

I like to schedule time for a parent helper to get all of my photocopying, stapling, and packet assembly done. Another great task for preppers is to help prepare center activities like Poke Cards. You can have them copy, cut, laminate, and hole punch each card so you'll be ready to use them in class. 

Parent helpers make great preppers when you can give them easy to understand instructions and supplies to make ready to use packets for your students.

I schedule a prepper at least once a week if possible. These amazing parent helpers are a real time saver! They get all of my prep work done so I am ready to go for the next week. With the help of your parent preppers, you might even have time to sit back and enjoy a Netflix show one evening. Imagine that! 

2. Graders

Do you feel like so much of your teacher time is taken up by grading? I sure do! Parents can be so helpful for checking work. Just be sure to provide them with a good answer key, and be ready to answer any questions they have. 

My favorite time to invite my parent helpers into the classroom is on Friday afternoons. They are so amazing because they are able to help me catch up on all of the grading I haven't been able to do during the week. These parent helpers can even make sure all of the graded papers are ready to be sent home before the end of the day on Friday.

Use parent helpers as graders to help you spend less time grading at home or outside of school time.

Grading papers is something that can be done at home as well. If a parent doesn't have time during the day to volunteer, this is a great way to get them involved during a time of day that could work better for them. 

I just laminate a folder and fill it with papers that need to be graded, the answer key, and any instructions. This folder can easily be stuck inside the child's backpack for easy transport back and forth from school to the parent. If you're worried about confidentiality, consider having students use a number to label their papers, rather than their names. This can help maintain student privacy among peers!

3. Run Small Groups

During math and reading groups I can always use an extra hand or two. It is AMAZING if you are able to find parents who are willing and able to help you out with small groups and center activities. If I'm lucky enough to get parent helpers for small groups and centers even once or twice a week it's a monumental blessing. 

Parent helpers are excellent for use with small group instruction.

If I have several small groups going at once, I will strategically place parents in groups that are independent enough but may also benefit from having an adult present to keep them on task. 

One activity that is perfect for a parent helper is playing games like BINGO during centers.  Students love it, but having that one person to lead the game is super helpful. Over the years having parents lead BINGO has become a go-to activity.  In fact, my students often get excited when a parent comes in because they know a good game of BINGO may be in their future!

Want to see just how great Bingo works with a parent helper?  Try this Short A Bingo game for free!

Grab this FREEBIE BINGO game your parent helpers can not only help prep but run in small groups as well.

And if you're looking for more BINGO games to use with parent helpers, you know I've got you covered! This Tens and Ones Bingo is a great way to practice place value. Trigraphs Bingo is a great phonics game to work on 3 letter blends. If you want to target reading skills, CVC Bingo is just the thing! And this Sight Word Bingo is a fun way to practice reading sight words and high-frequency words. 

4. Bulletin Board Makers

Bulletin boards are cute and so much fun, but they are also so time-consuming. This is why I think they are the perfect job for a parent helper. I like to find one or two parent helpers who are a little on the creative side to design and put up my classroom and hallway bulletin boards throughout the year. 

Take the tediousness out of bulletin board designs by asking parent helpers to use their creativity to put together an engaging bulletin board everyone will love.

You can give your parent helpers themes to follow throughout the year, ask them to display student projects, or give them free rein to come up with cute bulletin board ideas for the class. The options are endless!

I usually ask one parent to head the bulletin board parent helper group. They can take over the tasks of planning when the bulletin boards should be changed. They can also be the person to schedule when the other parents will be there to change out the bulletin boards. This will be such a huge relief in your classroom, trust me! 

5. Read-Alouds

Reading to my kids around the carpet is one of my favorite moments of our day together. Everyone can get cozy while sitting back and enjoying the story. Turns out, parent helpers feel the same way! I have found that inviting a parent helper in to read to my class is a magical experience. The parent helpers feel amazing and so excited to read to the class. The kids love it because it gives them an opportunity to hear someone else read a story. We have been surprised by some pretty amazing readers over the years. 

Use parent helpers as engaging readers in your classroom.

If I have parents with expertise that relates to the story, it's a great opportunity to invite them in not only to read to the class but maybe answer some questions and connect with the kids as well. 

I ask parents to plan on coming in for 15-20 minutes to read a story to the class. It really isn't a huge time commitment for them. This is perfect for those parents who don't have a lot of extra time but want to find a way to be involved. The kids love it when a parent visits, and I love the chance to run to the restroom, return emails, and listen to a good story.

Fair Warning: Be Prepared for the Worst. . .

While having parents help in the classroom is such a benefit, there are times when it might not work so well. Sometimes having a parent in the classroom brings out the worst in their own child. We don't want a parent helper to cause disruption, and they don't either. In cases like this provide the parent with tasks they can help with outside the room, like in the workroom. They might also be able to take some activities to the library or an empty classroom to complete. This allows them to come and help, while still having some time to interact with their child during lunch or recess. Sending projects home is another alternative in this situation too.

Pair your parent helper's personality with tasks to ensure success for everyone involved.

You may also run into the situation where a parent is a little more assertive or take-charge in the classroom than you prefer. In these cases, be intentional about the types of activities you ask them to do. You might not want them leading a small group, but planning class parties or organizing parent volunteers might be perfect for them. With some planning and forethought, even those negative situations can turn out to be enormously helpful!

Save These Tips for Using Parent Helpers in the Classroom

Be sure to save this pin to your favorite classroom Pinterest board. With these tips for using parent helpers, you'll never feel like you're drowning again.

Looking for ways to make the most of parent helpers in your classroom this year? Use these 5 tips for using parent helpers to make your year run smoothly and give parents an opportunity to help out in the classroom. #thechocolateteacher #parenthelpers #usingparenthelpersintheclassroom #parentvolunteers

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