Tuesday, February 9, 2010

From the Heart: 12 Things that You Can Do for Your Schools and Community

Teachers (and mentors and anyone who works with kids)  need all the help they can get, so, today, some ideas for how parents and community volunteers can help enrich classrooms and afterschool programs, and, at the same time, support kids.
  1. Teach what you know. Offer a workshop on personal finance, watercolor painting, organic gardening or Russian folktales. Your perspective and knowledge can enrich any lesson or project. Design a presentation, or some activities and materials around your area of expertise so that even when you have left the building, your knowledge stays behind.
  2. Volunteer in after-school workshops, classroom enrichment, or tutoring to small groups of interested participants (kids and/or adults).
  3. Teach the teacher or mentor. Are you an educator, a technology professional, a therapist? In what ways can your professional skills be used to help the people who work one on one with your kids? Be creative, be willing to help. Do not push!
  4. Spend some money, (if you can). Sponsor a class or building membership in an organization (such as one for gifted learners.) Sponsor an Artist in the School, or provide art supplies, educational software, books (used can be great) or a subscription to a publication that either kids or teachers can use and enjoy.
  5. Spend your time. Assist teachers by making or locating materials they need for special (and regular) activities. Update the website, edit a parent newsletter, ask … how can I help? Ask again.
  6. Connect with the community. Help busy teachers by taking the time to locate mentors for kids with special needs, resources for families, and other community people who have skills and knowledge that will enrich the classroom and fill the needs you see.
  7. Communicate with other parents and community members. (See update the website above). Encourage them to participate in parent groups, classroom and building activities, and to chose from the items on this list so that they too can help to enrich the school environment.
  8. Translate information, or be willing to communicate with families in whatever way is needed.
  9. Who do you know? Do you someone with an interesting career? Someone whose experiences would be of interest and value to kids? Is there someone who can bring music, or art, or culture into the classroom? Arrange for guest speakers. TIP: Also, ask people with special knowledge or expertise to recommend (or provide) resources, websites, books or magazines so that kids will be able to continue their learning.
  10. Collaborate with teachers, other parents and students to coordinate and participate in special events. You might: Invite an author for a literary evening, a story teller, direct a play, publish and distribute a collections of resources, run a Family Math or Science Night, design and plant a garden, host a dinner, organize a cultural fair.
  11. Show YOUR love of learning. Support what you believe in. Model the behaviors you value.
  12. Get involved.