Parent Participation

Parent participation in a classroom is a wonderful way to get the parents involved in the educational process of their child.  Traditionally parents have participated as volunteers in the classroom.  However this mode of participation has its own advantages and disadvantages.  In following paragraphs we will examine the various ways in which teachers can involve parents and benefit all those involved.

Problems Associate with Parent Participation

1.     Involves extra time and work on part of the teacher to prepare the parent for participation

2.     Some parents do not have the time to participate in class activities

3.     Some parent promise to come and donít show up

4.     Teachers maybe apprehensive about the professional and appropriate behavior of the parent

5.     Teachers may also be leery of the parents constantly observing them

6.     Teachers may also be concerned with the distraction that parent participation brings with it

Advantages of Parent Participation:

1.     Gives parents first hand information of what goes on in their childís classroom

2.     Child feels valued because he or she cherishes the time they get to spend with their parents in their class

3.     Extra pair of hands in the class

4.     Parents may also serve as a resource for the teacher


Steps in Parent Participation

1.     First explore your parentsí ,background, talents and resources they have access to.  This can be accomplished by means of an interest and information questionnaire at the beginning of the year.  Be sure to include questions about extended family and whether they would be willing to participate

2.     Then as and when needed if a particular need arises in the preschool send a notice to the parents who satisfy your need in terms of serving as a resource

3.     You could also encourage informal visits by the parents for observation, birthdays, holiday celebrations, lunches, field trips etc.

4.     Post a list of parent participation opportunities on the parent bulletin board.  These could include a list of teaching and non teaching tasks. Examples of teaching tasks include

       read to children

       play math and manipulative games with them

       assist in library trips and chores

       assist in computer work

       assist in learning centers

       help in field trips, class projects

       assist in cooking activities

       share ideas and maybe teach children about their own culture, hobbies, jobs etc.  

The parents could help in the following non teaching tasks

       answer phones

       make manipulatives and games at home

       help in classroom display and setup of childrenís work

       build and repair equipment and materials

       bring materials from home (e.g. toys, other usable materials like empty milk cartons, egg cartons etc.)

       supply materials for dramatic play

       organize and maintain the schoolís computer system

       monitor children during nap time

       supply store bought goodies for celebrations

       bring writing supplies

       bring small appliances for children to take apart

5.  After the parent participation it is very important to acknowledge the parentís role by writing a note or mentioning it in the parent newsletter.  This will encourage future participation.