John Green PFC

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Room Parenting

If you would like to be a room parent, express your interest with your teacher.  Sign-ups for classroom volunteers usually occur during back-to-school night.

"I’m a room parent, now what do I do?"

  1. Meet with your teacher to know which parties she wants to hold and how much time you have.
  2. Create your class contact list and email the parents to introduce yourself.  Do this both via email and hardcopy, not all parents are on email regularly.
  3. Recruit others to help.  Identify who can be the class photographer, craft leader, party prep, party helper, accountant, etc.
  4. Collect class funds.  Few options:  (1). Collect less upfront (approximately $20-$25) and have parents contribute food/snacks at each party or (2). Collect total cost upfront (approximately $30-$35) to cover all food/party cost and not request food contributions throughout the year.  (3) Some classrooms have been able to collect $25-$30 and were able to provide most of the food/party costs/gifts for most of the events from the class fund.  Be creative and take advantage of sales and freebies to stretch your dollars.
  5.  Be very clear in the email/letter what the money is for (list the parties/events, and indicate if it covers crafts, food, decorations, teacher gifts, etc).  Remember the class fund contribution is an optional donation so please be clear to parents of that option.
  6. Make a schedule of the year for your parties and events. Typical parties include: Halloween, Winter, Valentines, End of Year.  Additional parties some teachers allow: Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s, Spring.  Typical events include: Gator Gallop, your teacher’s birthday, 100th Day, Testing week (2nd – 5th grades only), Teacher Appreciation
  7. Set-up a budget per party and event.
  8. Create a class Shutterfly site: share pictures, manage the calendar with automatic reminders, have volunteer sign-ups, access to class roster & contact list
  9. Plan your parties/events.
  10. Ask your teacher to fill out a teacher questionnaire like this example.  Feel free to change the questions and tailor it to whatever your needs might be.

 

Budget, Budget, Budget

You have the option to collect your donation up-front.  Create a class budget based on the total amount you have collected and be very budget conscious.  You do not want to spend most of your money early in the year and not have enough left; it’s not fair to the kids or the parents who have trusted you with their money. 

  1. Determine how much money you have to spend on each party/event
  2. Breakdown the amount per party into how much you will spend on food, crafts, decorations, and gifts
  3. If you delegate buying to other parents, specify how much they have to spend.  Make sure you communicate that you can only reimburse up to a set amount.  Anything that costs more than the budgeted amount should not be spent or is the responsibility of the purchaser.
  4. Ask for a separate class accountant/auditor who will hold the class fund independent of the room parents and is responsible for checking receipts and reimbursements. 
  5. As an option, you can always open up your budget spreadsheet to the parents of your classroom so they know where their dollars are going.
  6. Be creative with your budget. You'll find that if you plan ahead, buy things on sale or "after holidays" and use the materials for the next party, your dollars can stretch more and you can allocate them towards gifts for your teacher or more activities for the class.

A Typical Year in a Life of a Room Parent

September – Teacher Meeting, Letter to Parents, Recruitment of Help/Positions, Collection of Funds, Gator Gallop

October – Halloween Party, Fall Festival Scarecrow Contest

November – Thanksgiving (only some classes)

December – Holiday Party

January – 100th Day (lower grades)

February – Valentines Party

March – St. Patrick’s Party (optional)

April – Spring Party (optional), snacks during Testing Week (sometimes May)

May – Teacher Appreciation Week - decorate your classroom door and organize something sweet each day (have kid bring a homemade card or note)

June – End of Year Party


Shutterfly

Set-up a class site!  It’s a good way to share pictures, manage the calendar with automatic reminders, and have volunteer sign-ups.  If someone else had entered the general school dates on the calendar already, you can ask them for the ics Shutterfly file so you can upload to your Shutterfly site.  Main highlights of using Shutterfly:

  1. A great tool for room parents to manage communication with other parents (esp. the ones you may not see in school). 
  2. It's a great way to share pictures
  3. Calendar management.  It sends out automatic reminders.
  4. Volunteer sign-up sheets can be generated and managed online.  We still recommend physical sign-up sheets at the door but it'll work great for working parents who cannot be at the school.  It cuts down on the emailing back and forth.
  5. One-stop-shop for communications.  Can send-out messages either via email or use the Message Board so the info is on the site and people can just log on rather than searching endlessly in their email InBox.
  6. Can be Password protected and room parents/owners can set up site permissions. 
  7. And possible $2000 for Green Elementary, if we’re one of the first 50 schools who sign up 50% of their classrooms (the most important while setting up your website is to put in the NCES School ID, which for Green Elementary is : 060001912078 (NCES= National Center for Education Statistics))

Party Crafts and Ideas
  1. Simple is more.  Watch out for the involved crafts!  Glues and paints can be time consuming and take awhile to dry. Everything is always a lot harder in kindergarten.  Pre- glued (sticker type) pieces are better. Kids have a hard time with little pieces...  Even peeling off the backs of stickers can be hard for them. 
  2. Be sensitive to religious holidays and crafts.  We are a very diverse school and we don't want any children feeling bad or left out.  (For example, think winter party not Christmas party)
  3. Be sensitive to food allergies when bringing in food, snacks, and treats.  Try to accommodate those with allergies.  Either avoid foods they can't eat all together, or depending on the allergy, work with parent to have a substitute treat for that child, or for the entire class.
  4. Work with other room moms and plan similar party's or crafts for a saving money technique.   Few of the places for inexpensive little items are Oriental Trading or the Dollar Store!
  5. Kids love games!  Some ideas include a mummy wrap game where the kids wrap each other up in toilet paper, or make the kids put their hand in a box to feel monster body parts (grapes, noodles, etc), or color eggs and had an egg hunt.
  6. Plan for less.  Party time goes fast and EVERYTHING takes longer than planned.  
  7. Communicate via email to patents re: upcoming festivities.  Always cc the teacher.
  8. During the parties, do a treat project (put frosting and sprinkles on a cupcake or a cookie), 2 crafts, and maybe a bingo game, or someone reading a story to the class... a picture frame craft is always a hit.  Take pics of the kids and put them in the frame for the kids to decorate, especially cute for Christmas!  MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE CRAFTS SIMPLE.
  9. Try to do a craft that the kids will like but also something educational and/or useful.  Sometimes craft projects go home and end up just going to the garbage when the novelty wears out.  Think of something that they can use over and over again if possible or something they can learn from.
  10. Halloween Idea: Painting mini pumpkins is a good one. 
  11. Thanksgiving is easy - do a potluck and just put a signup sheet out for traditional foods! 
  12. Try to buy all the paper products so they will be a unified theme... for example, you may get Dora & Cars tablecloths when you ask for a holiday theme!  
  13. For older kids, do 1 game, 1 craft, and a cupcake decorating.  Some other ideas include a bringing a picture of a Vampire cupcake and all the ingredients so the kids could replicate it with frosting and sprinkles on the cupcake; bringing in a punch with sherbet; making eyeballs on a stick  (rice crispy treats with white chocolate cover) for Halloween; making chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day; making rainbow cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day; making bunny cupcakes for Easter.  Familyfun.com has great ideas. 
  14.  Most teachers have things they like to do for the parties too.  Some classes make gingerbread houses, or have a stocking for each kid and the students bring a stocking stuffer for each stocking. 
  15. End of the Year can be potluck.  You can have balloon tosses or potato sack races.
  16. Have fun - you are not being graded.