Should You Be A Room Parent?

Room parents often coordinate class reader volunteers. Hero Images via Getty Images

There are a lot of benefits for you to volunteer at your child's school.  The bigger the volunteer commitment, the greater the potential rewards.  Larger commitments can seem like burdens if you are not a good fit for the volunteer job or if you do not understand the position well.

One volunteer position that requires either a semester-long or year-long commitment is room parent.

What A Room Parent Does

Being a room parent is all about organizing, communicating, and coordinating.

 The room parent is the central coordinator of the volunteer parent activity for your child's class.  Room parents often:

  • Coordinate other class volunteers and chaperones.  
  • Write up a weekly or monthly newsletter with information about upcoming field trips, events and activities, information from the teacher about what the class has been learning and working on, and special information about classmates that a child and their families would like to share (like birthdays or the birth of a new sibling.)  A more modern version is a class Facebook group.
  •  Coordinate class parties and other celebration events.  They may send out notices asking parents to donate treats for a party, or materials for special projects.
  • Help with class book orders or other special projects
  • Communicate to other class parent information from the schoolwide PTA/PTO about activities like carnivals, fundraisers and teacher appreciation activities

    Who Would Make a Good Room Parent?

    It is important for someone to be a good fit for the job they take on, even volunteer positions.  Qualities of good room parents include:

    • A Good Organizer.  Room parents need to organize and keep track of when events and activities are taking place at an event, what and who will be needed for each event, and keeping communicaiton coordinated between all parents.
    • A Good Communicator. In today's schools this is more than just being able to say the right words to get an idea across.  It can include being able to effectively use a variety of communicationa methods to reach dfferent families.  Ability to cross communciate between e-mail, social media platforms and even make phone calls is needed to keep other families in the loop.
    • A Good delegator.  An effective room parent spends most of their time fiding and organizing other parents to do speciic tasks or donate speciic items.  The room parent has the longer time commitment, while other parents can help on as needed basis.
    • A Good Time Manager.  The variety of tasks that need to be coordinated by a room parent can easily stretch out to taking several hours if time is not managed wisely.  Being able to set aside the right amount of time, perhaps a few hours a week of undivided time. Good time managers also understand how to find the most efficient way to complete a teask, and then move on.
    • Someone Who Can Commit.  This bears repeating.  Many school volunteer tasks only require a short, maybe even one time commitment.  Being a field trip chaperone means going on one field trip.  Being room parent you will be room parent for at least a semester, and often the entire school year.  If you aren't sure if you will be available in a few months, then maybe room parent isn't a good position for you.

      What Don't Room Parents Do?

      Often heavily invovled parents take on more than one role at their children's school.  In the role of room parent, there some limits that will not be expected of you (unless you sign up for something else.) Room parents do not:

      • Play a role in school or school district policy.  If you love getting together with people and organizing events but hate discussing budgets and policies, then you are a good fit for room parent.  If you are interested in budgets and policy, look to the PTA/PTO, school site council, or school board.
      • Attend every event they organize for the class.  Being an organizer and hands-on volunteer at every activity organized by room parent is a recipe for overwhelm and burn out.  If you are not getting enough volunteer help, either find new ways and approaches to getting volunteers or let the class teacher know that some events may have to be scaled back because parents are not able to provide the volunteer hours needed.  The teacher may have some other ideas requiring less parent work, or be able to change the event activity schedle accordingly.

        If you are interested in being a room parent, but can't commit to a semester or year, let the room parent know what it is you would like to do.  Taking on part of the room parent tasks will allow you the room parent experience, while easing the workload of another volunteer.

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