By Carissa Lellos
Throughout this series, we’ve talked about ways to build relationships with caregivers by communicating intentionally and effectively, but there’s another way to build relationships with caregivers: invite them into your classroom. By involving caregivers in the classroom and school community, you can create a vibrant and inclusive learning environment that enriches the educational experience for students. It may even lighten your load! Read on for fun ways to bring caregivers into your classroom.
Mystery readers add an element of excitement and surprise to your reading block. Caregivers can be invited to visit the classroom and read a favorite book to the students. This has the dual effect of building suspense for the surprise and getting kids excited for the read aloud! The student whose caregiver comes in can help pick the book, too, which makes them feel special. If your district uses Footsteps2Brilliance, you can even project students’ favorite F2B book on a Smartboard and have your Mystery Reader facilitate a reading!
To celebrate and champion diversity, it’s important to learn about different cultures in an authentic way. The best way to do that is to bring members of different cultures into your classroom. For example, if you are learning about Día de los Muertos, bringing a caregiver in with Hispanic or Latino heritage is a great way to create authentic learning. If caregivers are comfortable and willing, you can invite them into the classroom to teach about their cultural heritage, traditions, and languages. This ensures authenticity and fosters understanding and respect. With your help and facilitation, the lessons caregivers teach can help promote inclusivity, broaden students’ perspectives, and celebrate the rich tapestry of your community.
We’ve talked about “Room Parents” or “Class Caregivers” in a previous post. Designating a small handful (1-3) of class caregivers allows for collaboration between caregivers and teachers. These caregivers can help take some of the weight off your shoulders for things like acquiring items off supply wishlists, coordinating class events or celebrations, and building a sense of community within the classroom. Their reach is greater than you may think. They can serve as a valuable link between home and school, rallying other caregivers around their child’s education.
Class volunteers can offer their time and skills to assist with various tasks, such as organizing materials, preparing projects, or supervising field trips. Their involvement not only lightens the workload for you but also creates opportunities for caregivers to peek behind the curtain and actively contribute to their child’s educational journey.
Some caregivers want to go beyond occasional volunteering and jump into the school environment more permanently. These caregivers are great candidates to recommend to your school or district for lunch and recess monitors! Having caregivers assist as lunch or recess monitors fosters a safe and nurturing environment for students during break times. They can encourage positive social interactions and support conflict resolution.
Bake Sales and Food Drives
Bake sales and food drives provide opportunities to engage caregivers and students alike in community outreach. By organizing events to support the school or local charities, caregivers and students can work together to make a positive impact in the community. These events teach valuable lessons about empathy, giving back, and addressing your community’s needs. Having caregivers organize, promote, and run these events is a great way to bring them into the classroom and school community.
A grandfriends event, like a tea or dance, brings the older generation into the school environment. These events are a heartwarming way to bridge the generational gap and connect students with older adults in their lives, whether that’s great-aunts and -uncles, grandparents, or even great-grandparents! This intergenerational exchange broadens the circle of school and home connection and is a great way to bring more of the community together.
We recognize that not every school allows caregivers to fill all of these roles and that setting up these interactions can be time consuming. But bringing caregivers into the classroom is a strong and bold way to solidify your relationship and create a collaborative learning environment for your students. Embrace the power of bringing caregivers into the classroom and witness the transformative impact it has on our students’ lives!