How to Boost Parent Participation at School Events & Activities
5 Tips for Boosting Parent Volunteer Involvement
Get a head start on planning for school activities this year by recruiting new volunteers fast. Thanks to SignUp, it’s never been easier to organize and recruit participants, and to help school parents to stay on top of their jobs.
Planning is key to increasing your volunteer participation. Events run smoother with a large and involved volunteer pool – and that means even more success for the students and the school. Today’s technology allows for even greater flexibility for organizers and participants alike.
1. Cast a big net. Typically, the same parent participants work on most of the projects until they are exhausted and burned out. This year, make it a goal to have as many participants as possible, even if each is only doing a small job. It’s been proven that by given small, measurable, achievable goals – and sincerely welcoming, appreciating, and thanking your participants – you create volunteers who are much more likely to participate regularly and to offer themselves for leadership and fundraising teams. Capitalize on the enthusiasm at the beginning of the school year and begin recruiting parents at Back-to-School Night by directing them to the school activities SignUps. Parents can sign up right then and there on their mobile devices, and sync their commitments directly to their calendars.
2. Use SignUp’s free parent volunteer SignUp sheets. Make it easy for any and all parents to pitch in and volunteer at school activities. Create a Committee Picker SignUp Sheet to help parents plan for the coming school year. Remember that the 24/7 access to the SignUp sheets makes it really convenient for parents to choose and sign up for jobs, and to stay organized during the school year. As a parent leader, it’s so easy to list your exact needs on SignUp by creating a calendar with details of exactly what you need and when. SignUp's automated reminders take the drudgery of follow-up phone calls and reply-all email chains out of the picture. Many choices and easy signups encourages everyone to give in a way that suits their particular schedule, a win-win for both your school and your parent community.
3. Build Community. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to educate him or her! Providing a warm and inclusive way for parents to interact with each other often has far-reaching benefits for the classroom and school. Assembling a group to do a short, time- limited activity can provide a way for parents to meet each other. Or, why not invite parents to a monthly coffee, or establish a group on social media for parents to get to know each other and their child’s classmates? Perhaps there are extended family members who would be interested in volunteering –the family that volunteers together stays together! Make sure you widen your communications efforts – older family members may not read online classroom newsletters, so providing a hard copy for those who are interested is a great way to keep everyone in the know. To reach working parents, make sure you hold some parent meetings in the evening, and provide child care when possible.
4. Be Specific About Your Needs. Parents can’t volunteer if they don’t know exactly what is needed. And their responses may surprise you –busy executives might relish a chance to do a task that doesn’t tax their leadership abilities, such as stuffing folders, or spending a half hour copying handouts. Stay-at-home parents might shine teaching on a topic of former expertise. Odds are that your class parents have talents and depth you won’t know about unless you ask.
5. Think Outside the Box. In addition to the standard committee structure, find way to make the parents who have less time, but still want to be involved, feel like valued members of your team. Establish small, clearly defined tasks that busy parents can do without ongoing commitment, such as helping with a classroom activity, or taking the class hamster over the weekend. Parents pressed for time are often glad to send in donations (goods and money) with their children, especially for specific projects. By offering a variety of opportunities, both small and bigger commitments, you set parents up for success according to their particular circumstance. And it’s never been simpler to schedule, sign up and remind volunteers with free online SignUp sheets.
Don’t forget to give yourself a little love for stepping into a leadership role! In today’s climate of budget shortfalls and staffing shortages, your generous support is critical. And think of what an example you are setting for children and other parents. Kudos to you!