Room Parents

What is a room parent?

Room parents are an important and appreciated part of each classroom. You are the critical communication liaisons, linking parents in your classroom to teachers and other school-wide information. Being a room parent is a great way to get to know the families in your classroom(s). Consider it a partnership with your child’s teacher, a team effort to provide the best experiences for the class.

What are the responsibilities of a room parent?

The room parent job varies from room to room, but every room has at least one room parent (and often several).  Working closely with the teacher, room parents coordinate fellow classroom parents to accomplish class activities.  It generally works best to identify specific parents to be responsible for individual tasks, rather than have one or two parents be responsible for everything.

What is the lead communicator?

Each classroom should identify one parent to be the lead communicator. This person will receive email from the Room Parent Coordinator and forward relevant info to their class via their preferred communication method. They should also encourage parents to subscribe to and read eNews, if possible. This person is usually the main recruiter of volunteers and primary liaison with the teacher. It’s important that this parent be on email regularly and be up for the responsibility!

  • Consolidate messages and personalize to your classroom
  • Weekly Room Parent announcements deadline: Wednesdays at 11pm (to be emailed by Thursday) – often every other week, depending on time of year
  • Goal: RPs to share by Friday/weekend and refer to eNews for details when possible

What are the volunteer roles in the classroom?

Certain jobs require a parent to be identified as a coordinator. We need a parent to be identified for each of these roles, in order to connect them with the various school-wide chairs:

  • Lead communicator. Set up classroom communication system and be the primary liaison between the teacher and Room Parent Coordinator.
  • Treasurer. Gathers and keeps track of class funds. Check with teacher to see if they would like to collect all funds (field trips, teacher gifts, etc.) up front or throughout the year.  Although all donations are optional, the field-trip amount should be separated out in case some families can only manage a portion of the ask. Here is a sample spreadsheet.
  • Harvest Festival Activity Coordinator. Helps prepare for your classroom’s activity, serves as liaison between HF committee and your class.
  • Field Trip Driver Coordinator(s). Distributes and collects updated driver forms and submits them to the office; helps teacher recruit drivers/chaperones for trips.
  • Auction Coordinator(s). Coordinate classroom donation, promote the auction, and encourage ticket sales to class. Help solicit big ticket items a parent from their class may have to offer (vacation house, tickets to a sporting event/theater/ballet, special skill (i.e. pilot taking someone on a plane ride or someone with a boat offering a sailing trip around the bay), etc.  
  • Farm Classroom Liaison. Facilitates communications between the Farm and your child’s classroom. This includes but is not limited to your class’s Farm Work Day.
  • Simulation Liaison(s) (2/3 and 4/5 classes only). Works with teacher to communicate information about the simulations and to recruit volunteers.
  • Yearbook Coordinator(s). Collects photos, creates classroom yearbook page in the spring (4/5 classrooms will need an additional volunteer who will help coordinate 5th grader pages).
  • Lice Check Coordinator(s). Coordinate lice check information with their classroom.

These jobs may also be assigned, and vary by classroom:

  • Class parties – 100th day of school, Halloween, Moon Festival, winter holidays, etc. (check with your teacher as to which ones your class might be celebrating this year)
  • Gifts/teacher appreciation
  • Parent classroom volunteers (library, reading, small groups, etc.)
  • Scholastic Book Orders
  • Lunar New Year celebration
  • Anything else that the teacher might ask for help with

First Steps, before Back-to-School Night:

1. Build your class communication system.

Check with your teacher, because a few teachers like to do this themselves. UpToUs, Shutterfly, Google Groups, Konstella, and plain old email lists are all options.

2. Meet with your teacher.

Again, we suggest there be one room parent who serves as the primary liaison with the teacher. This person should meet briefly with the teacher in the next week to ask the following questions:

  • What help do they need with field trips?
  • How would they like your help when it comes to class parties and events?
  • How does the teacher handle food allergies in the classroom/events, and how can you help?
  • What parent volunteers do they need this year? Library? Farm? Art? Other?
  • Would they like help with Scholastic Book Orders?
  • Would they like to be on your class email list?
  • Also, please remind your teacher to get a library volunteer at BTS night to accompany the class to the library once a week.
  • Some room parents ask their teachers for wish lists or favorite coffee drinks, etc., to help when it comes time for gift-giving and birthdays (Find out when your teacher’s birthday is!)

3. Email parents reminding them to come to BTS night.

You may wish to outline some of the volunteer needs for the classroom so you can recruit volunteers at BTS night. You can suggest bringing checkbooks for class fund donations (which are optional).

Back-To-School Night (BTS)

  • At Back-To-School Night, you should be prepared to give a brief talk introducing yourself and your fellow room parents, explaining your role. The PiE team will provide a short statement for you to read to parents at BTS night. A PTA rep will present the teacher with their PTA grant money for the year, or ask you to do so.
  • Make sure you have everyone’s email addresses and remind everyone to join your communication system. Please be aware that not everyone may have access to a computer so alternate methods of communication might be needed.
  • Finances: Explain and collect checks for your class funds. Ask last year’s treasurer how much they collected and whether that will work again for this year (you will probably have discussed this with your teacher, as well). It’s important to say that these checks are optional contributions and suggested amounts. Field trip funds will be collected and budgeted separately.
  • Ohlone strives to be an inclusive community. Please encourage parents to share with the teacher any restrictions, observances or issues (religious, gender identity, special needs, dietary, etc.) that are relevant to their child or family. We aim to be sure that all children feel included in participating in class events, while respecting individual observances (for example, some religions don’t celebrate birthdays or Halloween). Invite parents to share to the group or privately to you and/or the teacher at a later time.
  • Circulate sign-ups for classroom coordinator jobs (Lice Education, Field trip, etc.) as well as classroom volunteer jobs (weekly jobs such as Art, Library, Farm, etc.). Getting people to sign up for things at BTS night makes it easier to recruit help later in the year when the time comes.
  • Some teachers ask parents to sign up for field trips at BTS night. Others do their own recruiting and organizing of drivers as the trips arise. And others ask your help to find drivers as the trips arise.
  • Also, please invite any others (especially parents of youngers) to help you with room parenting business. We want to be sure new families know they are welcome to help! Especially if you are in a K-1 classroom, invite 1 or more of the kinder parents to join the Room Parent Team so that next year there are 1 or more people to take the reins as you move on to 2nd grade.

Optional

Many classes have socials at the beginning of the year to get to know one another. Some classes do moms’ nights, dads’ nights, parents’ night out, camping trips, or other special events during the year. When scheduling these keep in mind religious holidays or observances. These all vary class to class.

Thank you! Our principal, our teachers, and the PTA hugely value your contributions as room parents!

Teaching hearts and minds together