Room Parent Handbook

Welcome Room Parent,

Thank you so much for agreeing to be a room parent for your child’s classroom!

Whether you’re a first time room parent or a seasoned pro, I hope this handbook provides you with helpful information for the upcoming school year. This handbook should provide a clear outline of the various room parent duties, serve as a general guideline for carrying out these duties and provide you with some ideas if you choose to use them. Please do not hesitate to contact me at roomparent@marshallroadpta.org if you have any questions.

One thing that makes Marshall Road Elementary such a special place is the great working relationship that exists between the parents, community, and staff. Through your efforts as a room parent, you will help to make a positive difference in the academic and social lives of every child at our school!

With appreciation,
The Marshall Road PTA Board
and
Missy Dixon
Room Parent Network Coordinator

Room parenting can be a one person job or can be shared with a co-room parent. If you have volunteered to room parent and there are other parents who have also volunteered, please feel free to share duties between you if you are all willing. It may prove easiest for only one room parent to be in contact with the teacher in order to avoid confusion or duplication of tasks.

Let’s get started!

  • Communicate with your child’s teacher. It is VERY important to meet with or email your child’s teacher as soon as possible in the school year to discuss their needs and expectation for the school year. A sample letter/email is included at the end of this document.

You will find that all teachers have preferences about how much participation they request from their room parents. Teachers, like our children, are unique individuals and have different needs and requirements. Some teachers have fully established routines for celebrations and other activities, while other teachers are content to allow you to fully coordinate some events. Please follow your teacher’s lead, and always remember how much the entire school community appreciates your time and efforts.

If possible, contact your teacher before Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 13 to request a class list. You can then send home a letter in Tuesday Folders asking for family contact information to make a class contact list. Due to privacy concerns, teachers cannot give you contact information for other parents. They can only provide you with a class list. Having a class contact list available for Back To School Night will allow parents to double check for accuracy, let you know their preferences for communication (hardcopies or email), determine a primary email address (if there is more than one for the family), and give parents the opportunity to let you know if they do not want their contact information included on a class list sent to the whole class. If you are able to meet with your teacher before Back to School Night, you will be able to answer parents questions quite well.

  • Introduce yourself (and co-room parents) to the parents of your classroom at Back to School Night, and through a letter in the Tuesday Folders, as well by email when you have contact information. A sample letter is included at the end of this document. An introductory letter is a great way to introduce yourself to all the parents in the class, provide them with your contact information, and obtain their contact information as well. Please introduce any co-room parents in the letter; however please only provide contact information for a “lead” room parent in order to keep communication simple. This letter is your first step in establishing a relationship with all the wonderful parents in your classroom’s community.
  • Connect with the PTA. Room parents are expected to become official members of the PTA (please see our Bylaws) by signing-up and paying annual membership dues. Room parents are also urged to attend PTA meetings. Attending PTA meetings is important for getting information about upcoming events that may need the involvement of room parents, and for sharing ideas and concerns with the PTA board. PTA meetings are held once a month and are announced through eNews and on the PTA Website calendar.
  • Communicate with parents through letters/emails. It is important to keep parents updated throughout the school year regarding upcoming classroom events. Communication through emails and letters allows parents to feel welcome and provides them with the opportunity to help throughout the year. When contacting parents regarding celebrations, please send your letter and/or email approximately 3 weeks prior to a celebration. Ask for optional donations of supplies, and for volunteers to help. Email communication or a web based sign up such as Signup Genius (or similar) for party sign ups has worked well in the past. Some room parents also use sharing sites such as Shutterfly.
  • Encourage classroom families to sign up for eNews. eNews is a weekly email sent out by the PTA detailing the upcoming events at the school and in our community. In the past, some room parents have signed up their classroom families themselves when they have obtained class contact information and others have chosen to simply encourage families to sign themselves up at http://marshallroadpta.org/news/subscribe-to-enews/. Families need only sign up once (not every year).
  • Keep a current Class Contact list and update when a new student arrives or a student leaves. Please check with your teacher to see if there are any changes to the class. You can send home a letter to the new family in their child’s Tuesday Folder in order to introduce yourself to a new student family and offer any assistance in helping them acclimate to our school. You may choose to send out updated class contacts to your families throughout the year, only at the beginning of the semesters or only when there has been a change in the classroom.
  • Help teachers organize volunteers for classroom support. Some teachers need help with stuffing the Tuesday Folders, help with reading groups, photocopying, and cutting items out. You can assist the teacher by finding volunteers for these tasks and helping to coordinate their schedules. In addition, you may be contacted by the ArtSmart Volunteer Coordinator to help identify volunteers to lead ArtSmart sessions in the classroom.
  • Teacher Appreciation Week is typically scheduled for the first week of May, however the MRES PTA appreciates our teachers throughout the year. The PTA will communicate teacher appreciation activities via the PTA website and at PTA meetings.
  • Work with the grade level team to plan the end of the year picnic. Each grade level’s team of teachers will begin planning the grade’s end of year picnic beginning in May. The lead teacher will usually let their room parent know when they need to begin planning. A sample cost sheet to help with planning and budgeting is available as a separate document on the Room Parent page of the PTA website. A sample picnic letter is included at the end of this document. Some grades have also used Signup Genius (or similar) with great success, but please plan to send home a letter in addition to a web sign up to make sure you reach ALL families.
  • Plan class celebrations and end of the year picnic. Different grade levels have different celebrations, often with the younger grades needing more parent involvement than the older students. Check with your teacher to see what help, if any, they would like with any celebrations they may be planning for their classroom. A sample letter is included at the end of this document.
    Please ask your teacher for guidelines and suggestions of how they would like celebrations to be planned and what activities, games, etc., they would like. Advance notification of any celebration involving food is very important for families with food allergies so that they can be prepared to oversee their children in food selections. Please be extremely careful and considerate of all food allergies in your classroom and communicate these needs to your classroom families. Marshall Road Elementary School discourages having food in the classrooms and has a “non-edible” birthday policy. Classroom birthday parties are not permitted.
  • Assist with getting volunteers for PTA activities throughout the school year. The PTA relies on volunteers, yourself included, to staff every activity it runs throughout the school year. There is always a need for volunteers – any amount of time is greatly appreciated! Please keep a look out for PTA information in the Tuesday Folders and on our website: www.marshallroadpta.org. Attending PTA meetings is the best way to know about upcoming events that may require the help of Room Parents, especially in seeking out other parents in your child’s classroom to volunteer their time. Volunteers may be requested for activities such as the Runathon, Field Day or any other special events. In addition, the PTA provides t-shirts for all students for the annual fall Runathon. Please work with your teacher to gather student t-shirt sizes and/or send home a request for shirt sizes early in the fall.

Optional Responsibilities:

  • Organizing Gifts for teachers for other special occasions: Please communicate with the parents of your classroom well in advance (4-5 weeks) to see if there is interest in contributing to a group gift for occasions such as the winter holidays, the end of the year or any personal celebrations such as the teacher’s wedding or having a baby.

If you ask parents to donate money towards a group gift for a teacher, please make sure that parents clearly understand that such contributions are an optional donation and never a requirement. It is also important to only suggest a donation amount (for example, “suggested gift amount is $5, but please feel free to send a different amount of your choosing.”) If you request money, ask for it to be sent in a sealed envelope with your name on it. Please let the parents know when you receive any contributions and let the families know how you will be using the money (for example: a gift certificate for a certain store)

  • Help schedule and/or organize chaperons for Field Trips. If your teacher is the Lead for the grade level, please feel free to offer your assistance with field trip planning.

Correspondence

Marshall Road Elementary uses “Tuesday Folders” as the main communication between the classroom and home. While email is a great tool for communicating with your class families, please send any correspondence with parents home both via email AND a hard copy in Tuesday Folders, at least at the beginning of the year. You will know by the beginning of the second quarter which families do not communicate through email and can then send home hard copies only to those families instead of the whole class. See sample communications below.

  • Please keep detailed records of all monetary donations that you collect, in case parents have questions. If you use a spreadsheet to organize your class contact list, this information can be added as additional columns. Just make sure you delete any contribution information before sharing the document!

School Volunteer Policy
Whenever you are at the school to volunteer, you must show your government-issued photo ID and sign in and out every time in the main office. This is the policy of Fairfax County Public Schools.

For parents of 4th Grade Classes:
For the last few years, 4th Grade has hosted a Colonial Day as part of their Virginia History Social Studies. 4th Grade room parents should get in touch with the 4th Grade teaching team as soon as possible to begin planning for Colonial Day based on the date scheduled by the school administration and PTA. It is a wonderful day for the students but does require planning and many parent volunteers to make it happen. The PTA has budgeted for this event so it does not come out of 4th Grade funds. Please submit a form and receipts to the PTA Treasurer as soon as possible.

For parents of 5th Grade Classes:
The 5th Grade families are responsible for hosting a reception immediately following the 6th Grade Moving Up ceremony in June. 5th Grade room parents provide refreshments and volunteers. Beverages and cake are traditionally served. The Moving Up ceremony takes place during the school day around the last week of school. The PTA has budgeted for this reception so it does not come out of 5th Grade funds. Please submit a form and receipts to the PTA Treasurer as soon as possible.

For parents of 6th Grade Classes:
6th Grade has a number of End of the Year Celebrations, such as the class picnic, the Moving Up Ceremony, and the 6th Grade Party. These activities all take place beginning in early June and make for a hectic time. Planning ahead and notifying your families of what is to come is highly recommended! The 6th grade participates also participates in a wax museum and volunteers are needed for set-up for this event. This event typically occurs sometime in December or February.

Sample Communications:

Sample Teacher Question Letter/Email

Hello,
My name is ________________ I have volunteered to be your Room Parent this
year. I have a few questions and requests for you before I begin planning this year’s classroom parties and events.

Can you please provide me with a list of all the children in the class?

Do any children have food allergies or other special needs?

How do you prefer to be contacted with questions…email, phone, note, or
in person during breaks in academics?

Will your classroom be having any celebrations through the year?

If so, will you need parent involvement for these celebrations?

If so, do you have any preferences in terms of party structure? For example,
some teachers prefer to have one game, one craft, one snack and a book
while others give parents free reign.

What time of day do you prefer to have classroom celebrations?

What are your thoughts on pre-school aged siblings or babies attending classroom activities when their parents volunteer?

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to working with you
throughout the school year.

Sincerely,
(Your name and contact information here)

 

Sample Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,
My name is________________, and I am the room parent for (teacher’s class) ____. I will be planning class parties, organizing gifts for (teacher’s name) and helping our class with other items as needed.

Please fill out and return the bottom of this letter so that we will be able to keep
in touch with you. Please return it by___________.

I will be sending home more information regarding specific events as we get
closer to those times.

If you are not already signed up for eNews, please subscribe at:
http://marshallroadpta.org/news/subscribe-to-enews/

Occasionally, we organize a class gift to the teacher, and I will ask for optional donations. Please understand that no one is obligated to contribute.

Thanks in advance for your help! I look forward to meeting each of you as we
work together to help our children have a great year. Please feel free to contact
me if you have any questions. Call me at ________________or email me at _____________________________.
Thank you,
(Your name and contact information here)

————————————————————————————————————-
Please return to your child’s teacher to be given to me.

Child’s name _______________________________________________________

Parent’s Name(s) ____________________________________________________

Phone Number (s) ___________________________________________________

E-mail address(es)___________________________________________________

 

Sample Celebration Sign Up Sheet/Email Letter

Dear Parents,
Soon the students in ______________________ class will be celebrating _____________________ on ________________(insert date and time) and we need your help! The following is a list of items and volunteers we need to make this party a success. If you are able to make donations and/or help, please send the bottom portion of this form to school with your child by _______________________ (at least one week before the party).

(If using as email: Please reply to all so others can see what is already taken, or use a web based sign up)

Party Set Up Volunteers (insert time 15 minutes prior to party start time)
Party Helpers (insert party start and end time)
Party Clean Up (insert party end time and 15 minutes past)

(#)Table cloths
(#)Plates
(#)Napkins
(#)Drinks
(#)Snacks (insert any allergy information if necessary)
Thank you for all your help!
(your name and contact information here)

(Use below if sending hard copy home)
———————————————————————————————————————
Name________________________________________________________________

Child’s Name___________________________________________________________

Phone Number__________________________________________________________

Email________________________________________________________________
_____Yes! I will to donate _______________________________item(s) for the party.

_____Yes! I will volunteer as a parent helper during the party.

 

Sample Holiday Class Gift Letter
Dear ____ Grade families,
The holidays are upon us and the gift giving season is fast approaching. Several families responded that they would like to contribute to a class gift for (insert teacher’s name). I’m happy to organize our efforts and would welcome any suggestions for what we could purchase for (insert teacher’s name).  Your ideas and input would be greatly appreciated!

If you would like to participate, the suggested donation is $10. You may mail your donation to:

(insert your address)

or send an envelope to school marked:  (Insert your name—class parent). If you send your envelope to school, please remind your child to give the envelope to (insert your student’s name), NOT to (insert teachers name)!

Donations are requested by (insert date at least a week before winter break) so we may be able to purchase a gift before the Winter Break. If you have any ideas of what kind of gift we could give (insert teacher’s name), please email me at (insert your email address).

Thank you,
(Your name and contact information here)

 

Sample Class Picnic Communication
The ______ Grade Teachers are excited to let you know about the End of Year Picnic for all ______Graders!

First, here are some specifics you should be aware of:
The picnic will be XXXX June XX, from 9:30 to 2pm at XXXX Park (a short walk from school). If it is raining, it will be held at school.
The children will walk to the park from school. As in past years, police will be present to help ensure children cross Nutley Street safely (which can be busy with traffic).
A picnic lunch will be served. Children should bring a refillable water bottle.
Families can bring other siblings to the picnic.

To make this event a success, parents need to help.
The school will supply XXX to eat and the recess boxes for the picnic, but parent donations of items and time are critical to make this event a success. We anticipate needing supplies to accommodate approximately XXXX people. Specifically, food and related items needed have been assigned to individual classes as listed below:

______Class: Desserts (LABELED – NUT FREE) Anything with nuts cannot be brought to the picnic.
______Class: Paper Goods and Wipes (paper plates & napkins)
______Class: Cut up Fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, berries, grapes, cherries)
______Class: Full sized bags of Chips (pretzels, veggie sticks, corn chips, gold fish, popcorn)
______Class: Cut up veggies with a maximum of two ranch dressings (we end up with too much)

If you have not already received an email notice, there will be a sign-up genius sent out to you requesting assistance during the picnic and to purchase food to be served. Additionally, you may use the form below indicating how you can help if you cannot use the sign-up genius (please return form by XXXX—minimum one week before the picnic).
___________________________________________________________________

Your Name: ______________________________
Your Phone Number/Email:_____________________________________________
Your Child’s Name:____________________________________________________
Number attending (excluding your XXXX grader):____________________________
Check below how you are able to help:
______ Walk with the class to the picnic (9:45am)
______ Walk with the class back to school (2pm)
______ Set up before students arrive (9:15am)
______ Clean Up after picnic (2pm)
______ Drive food, water jugs and gym equipment to picnic from school (9:30am)
______ Drive food, water jugs and gym equipment back to school (2pm)
______ Contribute a CLASS item (identify item and quantity): __________________

 

Sample End of Year Class Gift Letter

Dear ___ Grade families,
The end of the year is almost here! If you would like to contribute to an end-of-year class gift to (insert teacher’s name) please send cash or a check to (insert your name) by (insert date at least two weeks before school ends). You can send it to school with your child in an envelope addressed to me, or you may mail your donation to:
(Insert your address)
If you send your envelope to school, please remind your child to give the envelope to (insert your child’s name), NOT to (insert teacher’s name)! The suggested donation is $10-20.

If you have any ideas for a gift, please let me know! We plan to present (insert teacher’s name) with his/her gift on (insert date at least a few days before the last day) so it doesn’t get lost in the flurry of activity the last few days of school.
Thank you,

(Your name and contact information here)