Room parents are the magic ingredient of every elementary school year. Without these critical volunteers helping our teachers, planning celebrations and communicating with parents in the classroom, school would be a much duller and less organized place. And if that room mom is about to be you (and it looks like it is since you're reading this page!)–congrats for stepping up! Use our handy checklists and document templates to get organized and make it a memorable year for all, especially the kids.

What does a Room Parent Do?

· Room Parents facilitate communication between other parents and the teacher. This can vary widely from class to class and teacher to teacher.

· As a room parent you’ll solicit donations (paper goods, snacks, decorations, etc.) from parents for classroom parties and events (usually based on a list from the teacher)

· Collect money for teacher gifts during holidays and Teacher Appreciation Week in May.

· Organize volunteers for the classroom for events or enrichment, and other tasks as decided by the teacher.

· Room Parents also act as liaisons for the BHC PTA by helping generate support or interest in school events and activities. (For example, room parents will help the PTA promote Bear Fest by organizing the class Theme Basket or finding a volunteer to take on the task

1. Capture all the details

Schedule a teacher meeting at the start of the year to learn about his/her needs, preferences and expectations:

· Ongoing volunteer support needs: classroom helpers, weekly readers, science lab & materials prep, and recess supervisors

· Classroom activity dates and support needs: field trips, class parties, etc.

· Contact information: How does the teacher prefer to be contacted by you and by the other class parents?

· Teacher’s “favorites”: The PTA gives teachers a list of their “favorites”. You can help get this list out to your class parents as a guide for thinking ahead to Teacher Appreciation Week, Teacher Birthday or Class Gift for Christmas. Favorites include: favorite meal, beverage, restaurant, store, treat, charity, sports team, hobbies, etc.

· Classroom party dates and plans:

o How many? Who plans event and activities (teacher or parents or both)?

o Food requirements (healthy or sweets)?

o Food allergy considerations?

o Timing and activities/games/crafts?

2. Build an annual calendar of all events and volunteer needs

Publish it on multiple channels so all parents see it (the teacher’s website, a paper handout and via email). Tip: the more information you give to parents, the more likely they will be able to help with the planning, cost and volunteering. Make it easy for parents to choose when and how to help.

3. Communication

· Welcome Letter: Send parents a welcome letter including your contact information, important dates, and instructions about how to sign up to help. (A sample welcome letter is available here) This is also a great opportunity to ask parents if they have special interests or talents they would like to share with the class (e.g. gardening, music, photography, cultural experiences).

· Create a Class List: You’ll want to get a complete list for the teacher and other class parents to use but understand that sometimes this is not possible. If you do not receive all class parent emails from your teacher then send your emails to the teacher to email out to the class parents, because typically teachers do have all the emails. Also speak with the teachers about sending home information in the Wednesday folder or whatever works best for the class. (Class lists are used for party invites, class event notifications, teacher announcements, and parent volunteering)

· Be Professional and Cautious: NEVER release contact information without permission or share sensitive information you may be privy to as a room parent.

· Get Support Early: Ask parents to sign up to help at the beginning of the school year for activities throughout the year. Offer options so working parents or those with young children can pitch in from home (e.g. sending snacks or treats, preparing and purchasing supplies). If you would like to use an online volunteer or sign up site, try http://www.signupgenius.com/

· Budget: If there is a teacher holiday gift, birthday gift, or party funds needed, create a budget and alert parents at the beginning of the year.

· Delegate: Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do it all yourself. Be specific about what jobs need doing and when, and invite other parents to participate in organizing parties and activities. Do identify your most active volunteers and call on them when you are short – and show your appreciation! They’ll keep coming!

· Be Proud. You’re a great role model for all the children!

Thanks for all your help and if you have any questions, PLEASE don't hesitate to ask, check the school/PTA website/Facebook/Twitter, PTA Members- BHC PTA Facebook, and LISD website. We are all volunteers, so remember our motto, "I can't do everything, but I can do something."