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    By love2read

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    I love parent volunteers but you do need a system. I always send home a letter the first week of school naming the jobs I will need help with: Scholastic book sales, centers, room parent (parties, etc.), enrichment, reading, etc. At Back-to-School night (late Sept.) I have sign up sheets or they can email me their info. Sometimes I can find a mom who is willing to collate and coordinate this info for me, but I usually prefer to do it myself. I also explain my "rules" like confidentiality about kids work, letting me know if they can't make it, and of course not paying too much attention to their own child - "a professional attitude."
    I mostly use parents during center time. Usually I run 5 fifteen minute centers during our language arts block. This year I am going to be changing that but I think the things volunteers do is adaptable. I have an extra table at the back of the room where the volunteer can meet with approximately 5 kids at a time. She usually plays "games" with them. Sometimes the game is as simple as sight word bingo, but I have gotten a lot of games from Adrian Bruce's website ( and from this site

    Another good task is to have her go over their word study words. Many parents can take that idea and run with it if you give them mini-white boards or paper and markers or letter tiles. Other times, I have the parent tie into something we are studying in social studies or science. During our study of matter, I always get one volunteer to make oobleck with the kids. Volunteers are great for doing science experiments. ;)
    Another good use for volunteers is to work with your lowest readers one-to-one. I usually use books I copy from Reading A-Z and let them do timed repeated readings. I also make copies of the Dolch Sight words (available on many websites) and let them have the kids practice reading those words to them. I make a tower for the kids to color each time they read a whole list successfully. After 3 successful readings, they can move to the next chart.
    Last year I had a couple of moms do enrichment groups. One took my 4 highest readers and worked with them on reports about the northwest Indian tribes. They presented their final products to the class. Another one led a group of my highest readers in an author study of William Steig books. Obviously, I did the planning for both projects ahead of time and provided them to the parent.
    Finally, I had 2 moms last year who really wanted to help with math. So, we did math centers. I set up 4 hands-on math explorations and the kids rotated when I rang a bell (every 10-15 minutes). We used dominoes, playing cards, dice, etc to play "games" that reinforced whatever skill we were working on. During the 2 centers when they weren't with either the volunteer or me, I assigned worksheets, file folder games, computer games, etc. A good site for these games is: The kids loved those days every week, and I was able to really observe who had it and who needed more work.
    Good luck with your volunteers. They can be a great resource.

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