Amount of Parent Involvement in Kindergarten

Updated on November 29, 2012
I.:. asks from Minneapolis, MN
17 answers

I do have to say I really like my daughters teacher, from the little I've seen/heard, she uses clever ways to teach the kids, has a positive attitude, and seems genuinely nice and caring.

BUT I am a bit disappointed on the amount of parent involvement there has been so far with our kindergartener's class. she goes full day, and we pay quite a bit for the 1/2 day that isn't funded by the state (over $3,000). So far there has been one field trip (which I and a ton of parents volunteered as chaperones), one 'nursery rhyme' concert we went to in the middle of the day, and one hour-long class 'party' for halloween which both my husband and I attended. There will be another class party for the holiday this month. Each time the notices for these events were late (or missing) and there has been limited communication about them.

At the beginning of the year we were asked how often we could voulenteer in our childs classroom. I put 2x a month, and am willing to do more if needed. So far, there has been no parent volunteers utilized. We will sometimes get a weekly note sent home about what our child is learning, but sometimes not, and always it seems it was written by one of the other K teachers (who have a.m. and p.m. classes so are not really accurate all the time) and our teacher just added her name at the bottom. Other classes I've heard about have had their teacher set up a website for the school that has information on it which they update weekly if not daily, and a shutterfly account that has pics of the kids...

On this site and in other situations, I have heard teachers complain about how parents don't get involved, and also parents complain about how they are taken advantage of and expected to volunteer all the time. In our case, it seems like there are tons of parents from our class chomping at the bit to help out, to be a part of their childs learning (and seem eager to get to know each other but haven't had the opportunity), and the teacher seems really disconnected (and unorganized), and unwilling to include parents.

what is the norm? Am I expecting too much from this Kindergarten teacher??

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answers from Boston on

No, you are not expecting too much. But you may be expecting something you will not get. You are observing that a good teacher may excel in some areas and not in others. Over the years, I hope you have many good teachers, though some will please you in some ways, while at the same time, disappointing you in others.

I will share that I was not "gifted" in organizing volunteer work, preferring to stay well into the night to do the work myself. A wonderful parent, sensing that I did not wish to organize special projects for volunteers, suggested that she come in for "free choice time", sit in the reading corner, and read to the children who chose that center. This evolved into the best volunteer activity ever! For years after, I would offer this activity to parents. Their children loved it (even if they did not choose to listen to their parents read!), the parents added another "voice" to the reading center, the parents could observe and better understand what their children were experiencing, and I learned to loosen up a bit! Best of luck to you!

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answers from Syracuse on

It sounds to me like you're hoping for the same experience you maybe had at a preschool coop? Lots of parental involvement and actual time spent in the classroom.

I wouldn't expect her to come to you and ask you to volunteer. You could offer, and she may or may not take you up on it. She may not need it or even want it. I would think too much parental involvement IN the classroom would be very distracting. I would make the offer, that you're free to help with whatever is needed, and leave it at that. The most important thing here is that your daughter is receiving a good educational experience from this teacher.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

When parents are asked to volunteer at my kids school it is rarely to help in the classroom. We go in and do photocopying, cutting, sorting, stapling, putting up bulletin boards, setting up activities and book fairs etc. Only occasionally it is to intereact with the children in any way, like at parties or to do special crafts. In kindergarten especially I think it would be very distracting for the children to have their parents in the classroom. Our children build portfolios throughout the school year, and when they have student led conferences (at each report card) the children show their parents the portfolios as well as classroom activity centers and pictures that have been taken in the classroom.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

The amount of parental involvement sounds pretty normal to me. I don't want to sound mean, but the teacher's first priority is teaching, not planning volunteer schedules, which can end up being more work than help.

At our school, you can volunteer in the classroom for the 3 holiday parties per year. Every once in a while (as in, once last year when my son was in K) they asked parents if they wanted to be a guest reader for a reading celebration in April. That's it for classroom volunteering.

You can chaperone a field trip (there is 1 per year).

If you want to do more, then you work through the PTA. Our PTA organizes volunteers to help the librarian and also to help out in the cafeteria during lunch every day. But as I said, this is organized by the PTA and NOT the classroom teachers. Even the parents in the classroom for the holiday parties are organized by the PTA, not the teacher. The teachers are busy teaching, not coordinating parents.

In my opinion, when teachers complain about parents who aren't involved, they are talking about parents who don't supervise homework, who don't enrich their kids at home by reading to them, etc. I don't think most teachers want parents in the classroom every day (or even every week). That would be a major distraction to the kids.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't teach at a public school, but as a teacher who loves teaching and her students, i can tell you that trying to organize parent volunteers would have me in a tailspin. TAs are one thing, hovering parents quite another. and not every teacher, even great ones, have the savvy to set up websites that are updated daily.
send in a nice note asking how you can be of use to her. be pro-active. her job is to teach your child, not entertain parents.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

It really depends on the teacher. My experience in K, is that a mom friend and I took turns in the classroom each Tuesday and My alternated staying home watching our 2 year olds. If it was my day in the classroom, my child was clingy, emotional, and not really engaged. My friend's DD was a model student. When her Mom was in the room, my friend's DD became attached to her and not wanting to participate. My DD was a model student when I was not there. Part way through the year, friend and I realized this arrangment wasn't so good for our own children. We because more of a distraction than a real 'help" to the classroom environment. It was better for us do the parties and field trips, not the daily learning routine activities. It's OK to stay involved by volunteering at the school, but not necessarily in your child's room. Go through the PTA to find some other areas that would appreciate your help. K can just be chaotic and new people in the classroom all the time can be distracting. Next year's classroom may be completely different. It was better when my youngest was in 1st grade and I was able to have a volunteer routine, listening and helping to a group of struggling readers. At our school, teachers lsometimes liked it even better when parents volunteer in classrooms your child is not in.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It's great that your daughter has an excellent teacher. Many kindergarten teachers welcome parental volunteers. However, with the amount that these teachers are expected to fit in within the course of a day, they may not have as many opportunities to have volunteers in. Does this teacher have a TA or an aide? If so, she may not need as much assistance. She may have simply put out the same forms as the other teachers. Going on a trip and to a play and a party sounds good. When you have your conference with the teacher, ask if there will be any classroom volunteer opportunities throughout the year, to be a mystery reader or to help stuff papers in their folders or whatever she needs. But keep in mind that the tuition you pay does not entitle you to be in the classroom - I mention this because you specifically mentioned the cost of this school.
As an elementary school employee, I can say that parents in the classroom can be a confidentiality issue, and they also don't understand when they can't do the jobs of the teaching assistants.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am thinking she needs a class mom to volunteer to do all the paperwork required to inform involved parents like you! If she teaches well, LET HER TEACH! You could start a newsletter and call her every week to get info and assess her needs. You could give everybody your Facebook and be as involved as you want. I volunteered for my youngest to teach K art for 4 classes. That's an all day thing. By the end of that day all I wanted was to order a pizza and go to bed! K is very hard work. I am sure there are ways to make it easier for her but for her it's just another thing on her plate. You can help.

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answers from New York on

Honestly, I think all you need to do is convey to the teacher, "I really want to be involved! Please put me to work!" A lot of parents can't have this level of involvement on account of their work schedules, so it's like you're an undiscovered resource.

I also would caution you not to just assume this teacher is disconnected and/or disorganized. Teaching kindergarten is a heroic, herculean, grossly underpaid task. What you see in terms of communication is maybe 1 percent of 1 percent of the effort teachers put into the whole enterprise. And that kind of communication is nice, but it really is secondary to what goes on during the school day, in the classroom.

Really, if you want to be involved, you just need to take it upon yourself to reach out and let her know you're there. For any number of good reasons, she's just not interpreting what you've communicated so far the way you want her to. So, send a note in your daughter's backpack, email the teacher, and if those fail, ask to schedule a sit-down conference. Volunteer yourself as a "class mom" and take on some of the communication labor yourself. The teacher will love you for it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

The amount of field trips and parties sound normal to me.
As far as parent volunteers, it really depends on the teacher. I worked as a first grade aide for three years and it really surprised me how differently the teachers ran their classrooms. Some used parents a LOT, and their were many that came in regularly, like once a week, but others, not so much. The ones who didn't like to have parents in so much would say that it created more work and/or chaos for them and their students (having to spend extra time to show a parent what to do, kids not behaving as well when their mom's there, parents chatting with each other or their kid and their kid's friends, etc.)
I would email your child's teacher and let her know you are very interested in volunteering, and ask specifically how you can help. Hopefully you can sign up to do something on a regular basis, like helping with centers, writer's workshop or guided reading. Our school also had parents volunteer in the lunchroom, library and computer lab, so check with the office and/or parent's club to see what other opportunities are available :-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think there could be any number of things going on. If a teacher is new, they may utilize the materials the other teachers offer. Getting acquainted with a new curriculum can be enormous, not as easy a task as one would expect.

I know that one of many of our local school districts have had to make cuts, and some teachers have decided to stay on, but they are now teaching different grades and subjects, some for the first time ever.

It may also be that she is a teacher who doesn't care to have a lot of parental involvement at the school. Some teachers don't. But I agree that a bulletin board (where we can really see what they are learning) and a short newletter every so often can really help.

Also, is there a room parent for your child's classroom? Sometimes they drop the ball. It really depends on your child's school, but it does happen that occasionally parent volunteers aren't great about communicating those needs.

You could also address the teacher directly: "I'd love to know more about what my child is learning. Is there any way for me to find out more?" This puts your enthusiasm front and center and lets her know that there is a desire for more communication.

Lastly, it may be that there's something going on that's keeping her preoccupied. You could reach out. Sometimes, teachers really need help with prepping materials, and you could offer to do that. It's a specific task that she could put together and hand off to you if she chooses. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Each Teacher is different. IF a school, REQUIRES that a Teacher has a website, then they will. But not all Teachers do that. Some are not tech savvy at all, nor have time to upkeep it. Daily.

Each classroom and Teacher is different. All the Teachers do not, do things the same way.

Per Volunteers, if the Teacher did not indicate a time or day for the Volunteer to come in, then maybe she is assuming that the parent, will come in when they can. Some Teachers do not want to "nag" a parent about "when are you coming in???" type of thing. And they let the parent be self-reliant. Then, some parents do not volunteer, because they cannot. Or they do not want to or have other kids at home... and cannot get a babysitter for their other kids if they volunteer in class. Many scenarios.

Parent involvement, in the classroom, varies. No matter what type of school it is, private or public.
For a parent Volunteer to be "utilized"... it also involves, the parent, to communicate with the Teacher and to tell her, when the parent can come in.

Not all Teachers, communicate or send home notes about their child, everyday. Doing that, would take all morning to write up. They do not have time for that. They have to teach their class and the curriculum etc.

Activities/field trips/parties in the classroom, also vary per Teacher. Having these things, takes preparation and reserving the time slot and dates, even 6 months in advance.

Most classrooms, per my kids' school, has a "Room Mom," A volunteer, who works WITH the Teacher, in assisting with the planning of things in the classroom and also helping in class. Again, the frequency of this will vary, per the Mom's ability and availability and per the Teacher's style of planning things.

Yes, and some years, there are not many parents volunteering. Some years there are many volunteering. It varies.
At no time, has any of my kids' Teachers, "expected" the parents to volunteer, BUT if they need help, they send home a memo.

If parents are willing to volunteer, then they need to take the initiative as well, to convey that to the Teacher. BUT... a Teacher also has to manage, how many parents are IN the room at the same time on the same day. Or the Teacher must "schedule" the parents. And this takes time too. And it can be complicated, because, parents can be picky about when or what time they are wanting to be in class to help. So then the Teacher has to "manage" all the parent's preferences, and please them... and also plan per her own classroom times and learning, what and when a parent or parents... can be in class. If too many parents are in a classroom on any given day to "help"... it can also cause a disruption to the kids, and interfere with the Teachers routines.
Many things, to consider.

I, have volunteered many times since my daughter was in Kindergarten 10 years ago. BUT... I ALWAYS... go by the cues by the Teacher, and what he/she needs or wants. I do not overstep. Or impose my own thoughts about how the volunteering should be in her or his, classroom.
Some Teachers, do not want or need, parent volunteers. Some do.
It is not the same for all Teachers in all grades.

Per my kids' school, the Teacher also sends out a classroom listing... of the parent's names and their child's name, and their contact e-mail address or phone number. BUT this is voluntary and per privacy. And IF a parent wants to be on that list, they say so. That way, the parents can "mingle" and contact each other on their own.
It is not the classroom time, that is a social for the parents to get to know each other. And a Teacher does not have to do that. A parent, can simply on their own, socialize with the other parents at drop off times or at pick up times. That is what ALL the parents do, at my kids' school. Or if a kid is friends with your kid, then you reach out and introduce yourself to the other parent.

If you want to know how your child is doing or learning, then simply e-mail the Teacher. Or, set up a meeting with the Teacher.
Most Teachers, will send home a "calendar" monthly of things or of their schedule.

Typically, at the beginning of the school year, schools have an Open House or meet and greet the Teacher type of thing. At this time, the grade level or the Teachers, inform the parents of what their curriculum is and what they children will be learning.
AND, when your child brings home homework, that is the time you also see what your child is learning. And in their homework folder, you can also send a note to the Teacher of any questions you may have. This is a common type of communication method, that Teachers and parents do.

Per my kids' school and grades, the Teachers do not expect a volunteer parent or volunteers there, everyday. Nor all day or all the time.
It is according to when a parent can come in. And making that known to the Teacher and seeing if that day or time, works out for the Teacher. If needed.
The amount of volunteers per class per grade level, will always vary. For some parents they may think that there is enough help or volunteers. To others, there may not be enough. But it is up to the Teacher, as well.

But the bottom line is: it is up to the Teacher.
In Kindergarten especially, a Teacher typically wants the kids to grow more independent. For some kids, seeing their parent there in the classroom, is very distracting or causes the child to regress. For example. And sometimes, having a volunteer in the classroom, interferes with the classroom routines or the Teachers manner of managing her classroom... and then the Teacher has to mange the parent and the children, at the same time.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My son's kindergarten is split into a.m. and p.m. with some overlap in between. Early kids go 8:10 - 11:30; late kids go 10:10 - 1:30. They have one parent help from 8:30 - 9:30 and a different parent from 12:30 - 1:30. I believe almost all, if not all, of the available spots are filled. In addition, they have a parent volunteer each week when they go to computer lab (both morning and afternoon together).

We get emails every couple of weeks if there is something important to tell us, but we don't get a general "here's what your kid is learning" email.

We had a Thanksgiving feast that all parents good attend, but there was little interaction with the teachers (just because it was SO crowded).

Our teachers utilize the parents quite a bit and I really like it. I enjoy being in the classroom, seeing what they're doing, and getting to know the teacher better. When I'm there in the afternoons (once every two weeks), there are only 12 kids in the class, so it's nice and quiet, calm, and you can really see what the kids are doing.

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answers from Peoria on

In our school, the teacher does not really organize the parties or the volunteer time for the class.

For the parties, a number of parents who are interested in helping sign up, usually on parent night, and one of them is asked to be head room mom, if no one volunteers for that job. That person organizes the party and the other moms.

For helping out with the classroom, in our school you volunteer to TAP (teacher assistance program) and say when you are available. The office then makes a schedule for the teacher and parents. We don't actually get to be in the classroom, but we do the teacher's busy work for about an hour or so.

Also, we can volunteer to read to the class.

I guess it's pretty standard what you are saying. I wish I could be in the classroom with my daughters teacher helping one-on-one, almost like a TA, but it's just not done like that. I think it's too disruptive for the classroom.

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answers from Detroit on

every teacher is different. last year my daughters kinder teacher only wanted parent volunteers for computer lab. so I met her in computer lab once a week and helped the kids do whatever computer activity they were doing. This teacher was disorganized and kind of ditzy. and yes we got late notices about special events. it was a horrible year. but my duaghter loved the teacher and had a great time.

my daughters first grade teacher loves parent help.. and I am int he classroom 3 or 4 times a week.. there are parents int he class 4 days a week.

as far as the newsletters regarding full day and half day activites. we had the same situation last year.. full day class and then am and pm classes. they do exactly the same thing in the classes. The educational goals for 1/2 day and full day are the same. they have to teach the same thing and meet the same benchmarks by june. in our full day kinder the kids get 3 recesses a day + art and music-- they eat lunch and take a nap. the 1/2 day kids just do the work and go on home . But they cover exactly the same learning material. So the newsletter you recieve does accurately reflect the learning activities that are going on.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Different teachers have different styles. Different people have different personalities. Maybe she's so good in the classroom because all her attention is focused there. Maybe she doesn't think that she should be bugging the parents all the time. Lots of parents welcome having a capable and willing person tend to their children without requiring their constant input. Are the other parents disappointed, as well? It's obvious that what's most important to you just doesn't register at the same level with her. No one can know your expectations unless you say the words.

I can't tell you the "norm"--sorry--but I think that you should talk to her so you have a better idea of what to expect. Maybe at the end of the semester she'll encourage you to rate her as your little one's teacher, and you can voice your concerns there. Maybe you can schedule a parent-teacher conference and ask her what her system is, so you know what to expect. Surely, there's logic behind it.



answers from Boston on

Our k had "guest reader" abt every 3 wks where a parent reads to class, 2 field trips, 4 parties and 2 conferences. 1st grade teacher has a website


Our k had "guest reader" abt every 3 wks where a parent reads to class, 2 field trips, 4 parties and 2 conferences. 1st grade teacher has a website

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