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Promoting Parental Involvement Through Volunteerism
By Carolyn R. Tomlin

Books on butterflies need to be checked out of the local library for next week’s unit on insects. It’s that time of year to think of a unique fundraiser for your child care center. The telephone committee needs organizing, and the hamster and goldfish need a home during holidays. How can you manage a successful center and find time for all the extras? You can’t – unless you have a great group of volunteers who are willing to help.


Most of the children in your center are enrolled because both parents are employed outside the home. This fact complicates matters when you need volunteers during the day. However, you can encourage working parents to become involved with the following activities. Share these ideas with your parents and supporters by duplicating this list and distributing it at Open House or by sending it home during the year.


1.       Read and record a favorite story for the children. Children enjoy going to the listening center, using the earphones, and turning the pages of a favorite book while hearing a story read by a voice different from the teacher’s.


2.       Call businesses for donations and help with the current fundraiser. When asking for donations, always identify the school, explain the reason for the request, and follow-up with a thank you note on letterhead from the center. Remember that products may be easier to secure than cash.


3.       Care for the class pet during holidays. Pets need daily care with responsible people. Offering to care for the center’s pet will ensure that “Pete” the hamster has a long and happy life.


4.       Volunteer for field trips. Transporting a group of small children away from the center is a huge responsibility. The staff usually needs more hands and alert eyes. If possible, volunteer as a chaperone at least once during the year.


5.       Volunteer for a telephone committee. Telephone committees are great for making special announcements and sending reminders to parents about upcoming field trips, holidays, and special days at school.


6.       Ask other parents to become involved. Promote your child’s center in a positive way in the community. Your positive advertising spreads awareness and brings new children and families to the school.


7.       Make favors for a holiday or special occasion and bring to the center. Offer to design a bulletin board, bring in edible treats, or make banners and other decorations. Remember to volunteer for the clean up that follows a celebration.


8.       Involve the community in supporting the center. Make a survey of local businesses and individuals that could contribute to projects. Are there parents who could donate labor or supplies?


9.       Work with an after-school group to make “Welcoming Kits” for new parents. These kits might include a packet of information on state and regional regulations, safety, nutrition, required immunizations, contacts to call in case of an emergency, the people who have permission to pick up a child in a parent’s absence, and other items vital to the center.


10.    Keep a list of parent employment. Could a house painter help children design T-shirts using latex paint? Could a grocery store manager bring samples of fruits and vegetables for tasting? Could a nurse bring a stethoscope and allow children to listen to a friend’s heart? Think of the various areas for learning parents can supply.


Carolyn R. Tomlin is a former assistant professor of early childhood education at Union University.