How to be an Awesome Room Parent

image via flickr
image via flickr

You’ve signed on as room parent for your child’s class. Huge props to you! Your willingness to take on added responsibility is admirable and your mad organizational skills appreciated. As a classroom parent, you’re charged with serving as the main source of communication between your child’s teacher and all of the parents in the class.

Your duties likely include keeping everyone informed and up to date on class news and events, coordinating class parties, collecting money for teacher gifts, and recruiting volunteers to help meet the teacher’s needs. It’s a big responsibility, but you can do a stellar job and keep it manageable by following these helpful tips.

Don’t go it alone. Rather than handle it all, recruit another parent as a co-room parent and split the duties. One of you can handle email communication and calendar updates, and the other coordinate parties, field trips and events. Having a partner will keep you from becoming overwhelmed with ongoing tasks.

Have a sit down meeting with the teacher to synch expectations. This is your chance to understand the needs and responsibilities of the job, get a list of events for the calendar, obtain a class contact sheet and agree on how you and the teacher will communicate. Ask about any allergies or special needs in the class that you need to be aware of. Also get a sense of her style and ask about her favorites and preferences so you’ll be ready to choose the class gift.

Go digital. Keep an updated class calendar, whether it be on the classroom blog, school website or a site such as Shutterfly. Also make use of volunteering services like Volunteer Spot for communication. The sites will keep everything up to date and allow you to recruit volunteers, request things like extra supplies or snacks, and collect money for field trips and group gifts without sending countless emails. Using these services also helps to eliminate the dreaded Reply-All communication strings.

Help families get to know each other. One of the nicest things you can do for your child’s class is to help their families build relationships with each other. Sometime at the beginning of the year, long before holiday chaos consumes us all, send a welcome letter and schedule an informal meet and greet. There’s no party planning involved. Simply invite whoever is interested and available to meet somewhere local for coffee after school drop-off or for drinks one evening. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your child’s friends’ parents, put faces to names, and compare notes on how the year is shaping up. You may end up finding a new carpool buddy, and you’ll certainly improve your chances of recruiting volunteers later in the year.

Make it a family affair. Involve the kids and your spouse by sharing duties. Your child will get an up close view of what you are doing for his classroom, and come to appreciate the work that goes into having a well organized and fun filled school year. It’ll also help take a lot of work off your to-do list.

With a little planning and upfront work, you can take the stress out of your duty as room parent and turn the experience into a rewarding opportunity for you to contribute to your child’s education and build lasting relationships with other families in the school. Congrats to you for stepping up to the job!