Several of us, here at Pear Tree, have spent time volunteering at our kids’ schools, whether in the classroom or as a member of our parent teacher organization. One of the most demanding but rewarding jobs is that of the room parent, in charge of organizing volunteers and coming up with classroom party ideas. Having been a room parent for several years in my boys’ classrooms, I learned that the key to having a smooth year is to get the other parents in the classroom committed to helping you early and often.
At our school, one of the best ideas for making this happen was to host a beginning-of-the-year potluck. Both parents and kids should be invited–here we’ve shown a kids birthday invitation, re-purposed for a potluck get-together. The potluck can be held at the school or at a parent’s house, inside or outside, even a nearby park, if picnic tables are available and the weather cooperates. All you need are a few tables and chairs, and everyone brings their favorite dish to share (or you can assign them).
Name tags are essential, to help parents and teachers put names to faces. The teacher is always grateful for the opportunity to meet families in a casual setting. As the room parent, this was my chance to enlist helpers for all of the various classroom needs and events planned throughout the year. I typed all the volunteer opportunities on a sign-up sheet, and had it prominently displayed at the potluck. And I always went home with every position filled. A little peer pressure goes a long way, when parents see others helping out. But more importantly, the potluck fostered a spirit of camaraderie that carried throughout the school year. If you’re looking for a fun way to kick off the year and get parents involved, send out the party invitations, bring a sign-up sheet and go, girl!