Thursday, November 3, 2016

Engaging families in community service projects


This week I've been sharing ideas for starting a community service project in the preschool classroom. For any school community service project to be successful you have to engage families and get them excited about the project.  This is not always an easy feat, so here are some of the ways that I've encouraged parent participation - and actually gotten it!


  • Get the children excited about the project - when you're working with preschoolers you can use their enthusiasm to your advantage. If the children are excited about your project then they will not stop talking about it, they will let their parents in on every single detail, and they'll help their parents remember what they are supposed to bring or do. 
  • Communicate in as many ways as possible - If you want to really get your message out then make sure that your families don't miss it. Send notes home, post them in the classroom, talk to the parents, send emails, and make reminder calls or texts.  You wouldn't do this for just any class project, so it will get the message across that this one is important.
  • Give advanced warning - Once you've decided on your project let parents know the idea and the timeline so that they can plan for it.  A community service project typically requires a little more time and effort than the things that we usually request from parents (filling out paperwork, bringing in extra clothes, etc.). Giving them plenty of time to participate is a gesture that families will appreciate. 
  • Plan thoroughly - Take the time to plan out as many details of the project as you possibly can before introducing it.  Are you collecting something? If so, where will families put their items? Do you have a specific organization in mind to benefit from your project? Contact the organization and see if they have any requirements. Will you need to arrange a field trip? Prepare all of the plans and paperwork beforehand.  Having all of your plans in place will help you anticipate any questions that might arise and be prepared to answer them.  
  • Use your families' connections - Does one of your students' parents work for or volunteer for a specific organization? Planning a project with this organization in mind will guarantee that you have at least one parent on your team. This parent can be your liaison between the organization, and they will also probably work to encourage other families' participation too. 
For a list of Community Service Project ideas, check out this post!

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