Charlotte and I had rocky start to preschool this year. Neither of us knew what we were doing and both of us were gently corrected everyday for the first two weeks. With a little more direction, we could have started off on a better foot.
Charlotte attends a Montessori preschool and there is an age range from just under 3 to 5 1/2 year-olds in each classroom. The children attend the same class for 2-3 years and move to another school to attend first grade while younger children join the class. The room-moms are the parents who have been a part of the school for at least a year, sometimes two, and know the program like the back of their hand. They sometimes forget that the new parents like me are still figuring out the everyday ins and outs.
*I know dad’s volunteer too, but Charlotte’s class just happens to have 3 moms in this roll. Please pardon my use of the term room-mom instead of room-parent.
I appreciate our lovely room-moms. They are wonderful ladies who are actively involved in our classroom. They accept a mostly thankless volunteer position and take time away from their busy lives to enrich the classroom experience for the entire class. That said, there’s always room for improvement.
From my admittedly limited experience, here are a few things that can up your room-mom game:
1. A Summer Meet and Greet – It would have been wonderful if Charlotte could have met some classmates for play dates before school started. Walking in and recognizing a few friendly faces would have been less intimidating.
2. An Orientation Packet with photos – We received a packet for parents, with the school calendar and important phone numbers. A packet for the kids with photos of their classmates, teachers, and/or classroom would have been amazing to go over with Charlotte before school started.
3. Answer the What if’s – Let the new parents know what to do when something gets flubbed up (as it usually does). What do I do if my child forgot her lunch? Should I leave it outside the door instead of entering and disrupting the class? If we are running late, should I wait with C outside until circle time is over or just open the door and come in? If I lose the school nap-mat that I’m supposed to take home and wash each Friday, tell me where I can buy a replacement. Don’t make the new parents learn by making mistakes and getting corrected, let them know how to handle common situations.
4. Communicate the Everyday Classroom Stuff – This one is more about the teachers, but many times the room-mom helps communicate on behalf of the teacher. Asking a tired three year old to describe her day at school is hopeless. I would love to know what songs they are singing, what art projects they are working on and which educational lessons they are tackling. An update of “This week we are focused on the ocean and sea animals, we are singing “Baby Beluga” and noticing all of the things around us that start with the letter B,” could lead to a better discussion of the school day and practice at home.
5. Use BCC – This is a great tip from Raluca. Using BCC when you send emails will avoid clogging everyone’s inbox with replies.
6. Pictures! – Everyone loves pictures, especially parents and preschoolers! Set up photo sharing, a photo stream or a Facebook group for your class. During Charlotte’s latest field trip, a thoughtful parent texted a photo of Charlotte and her classmates having a great time. It was a wonderful little photo to receive while I was at work. Parents love to see what their kids are up to while at school, and kids love to see pictures of themselves. Setting up a way for parents to see field trips and school activities would be appriciated by the parents who are unable to participate more because of work or younger kids at home and it is one more thing that can facilitate discussion at home.
We are nearing the end of the school year and I feel like I definitely want to volunteer next year. Hopefully I’ll be able to help the new families join our class smoothly.