By Travis Finn
Class Room Parents – A.K.A Room Moms, Class coordinators, Liaison, Mediator, Communicator, Brown-noser, Teacher’s Pet..Etc. Very rarely, and shamefully so, does the description include the word “DAD”.
When I was looking for ideas on this subject, it took hours to find reference or guidance targeted towards Dads wanting be a room parent. Most everything I came across appeared to be designed for Moms. There are even websites completely dedicated to and titled “ROOM MOMS”. The clear minority used my favorite term…”ROOM PARENT” – removing gender from the role and thus possibly encouraging more involvement from Dads. As a third year room parent, and this being my first year with 2 kids at the same school, so I am a Room Parent for 2 classes, I am glad I chose to take on this role and connect with my children’s classes.
Now I will jump off my soap box and share some of my experiences as a “Room Parent” or as I am known as at my children’s school, and Active Dad. ** Disclaimer – I am NOT an EXPERT!
The easy breakdown of the “Primary” duties and expectations of a room parent, from my experience as well as my research can be squeezed into 3 general areas.
1) Primarily you are the “Liaison” between the teacher and the parent body of the classroom. I have found that the best way to kick this off is to gather a list of all parent contacts (email and phone) and Blast out an introduction, connect this group and set the expectation that you are here to help the teacher focus on the job of teaching. This does not mean that parents are expected to go through you to get to the teacher, it merely means that for the massive amount of information that parents are expected to decipher, you are there as an additional resource to answer class specific questions. This role is overseen by the teacher so take comfort that you will be in good hands.
2) Coordinate volunteers in the class or be the “Delegator”. This is a huge help and if you play your cards right, you can take part in activating the parent body on the class level that will provide benefits to your class and your student. Being the Room Parent does not mean YOU have to DO everything, use the parent body as a resource. This is where the rubber meets the road for me. There are so many opportunities to connect with the teacher, kids, other parents and the school. There will be class parties, teacher appreciation events, volunteer opportunities within the class, supply needs, reading companions, math star tutor programs, and other ongoing items that can distract a teacher from teaching, but need attention and leadership.
3) Be an extension of the PTA or be the “Connector” for your class’ parent body and the SCHOOL’s Parent and Teacher body. There are a ton of things the PTA does for our schools. Being plugged in here assures healthy support for our schools in an age where budget cuts are impossible to escape. By promoting your PTA on a Room Parent level, you get to play a part in leading by example and encouraging your class room parent body to have a direct impact on your child’s resources. Through Fund raisers: events like field day, Donuts for Dads, Muffins for Moms, Tea for teachers, Movie Night, Skate night etc…the PTA can really enhance the “Community” atmosphere within the school.
That’s the nutshell, I hope there is something useful here for all parents. My dream would be for moms to encourage the DADS to step up and plug in to their schools. Also, please continue to support Dads that are involved, welcome them, be empathetic since they are probably the minority but truly want to make a difference.
These opportunities are unique and I hear, this kind of Parent Involvement is not encouraged on this level beyond Elementary school, so your time is limited!