By Jessica Young, Community Manager at VolunteerSpot

As school budgets suffer cutbacks, educators are tasked with getting more creative in supplementing curriculum with enriching and memorable activities. Engaging parents as partners not only amplifies your resources, but it builds relationships with parents, helps parents demonstrate the value of education, and ultimately influences student success.

Try one of these five simple ideas for enriching your classroom experience through parent engagement:

  1. Spice up the routine weekly classroom activities with creative and interactive experiences. Ever heard of a Mystery Reader? Inviting students with clues to guess who is coming next to read to class gets students excited about reading time and involves parents and staff in the fun. Don’t stop there! Ask if parents are willing to host Mystery Science, Mystery Music and Mystery Art activities as well.
  2. Seek parents (and local professionals and experts) to volunteer their skills, talents and hobbies. Who can contribute to enriching lessons and demonstrations in technology, health, nature, dance, sports, media, international cultures, music, etc?
  3. Make it easy for parents to get involved by reaching parents who don’t typically make it into the classroom. Skip clipboard signup sheets and “reply-all” email chains when asking for help and embrace new time-saving applications like VolunteerSpot’s free online sign up sheets and volunteer scheduling software. On-the-go access and automatic reminders encourage wider participation.
  4. Involve students and parents in a seasonal or term-long service project. Whether it’s collecting gently used books for a classroom less fortunate, canned food for the local food bank, or initiating a recycling program for the grade — service projects build community, get families involved at home and in school, and teach the importance of service and giving back.
  5. Invite ALL parents to help out, whether it’s half an hour each week or once a semester. Avoid the “Same 10 People” syndrome by working with your room parent to make it convenient for everyone to sign up to help, offering alternatives for volunteering from home, and by simply asking parents for their feedback – how would they best like to enrich the classroom experience? You may be surprised by their ideas and inspired to take action in a whole new way!

Jessica Young is a Community Manager at VolunteerSpot. VolunteerSpot saves teachers time and makes it easy to coordinate parents and volunteers to help at school and in the community. Finally an end to ‘reply-all’ email chains, spread sheet juggling and paper sign-up sheets! Take a tour today! Follow Jess on Twitter @VolunteerSpot

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