Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parent Volunteers in the Montessori Community: Create a Montessori Volunteer Handbook

NAMC montessori community create parent volunteer handbook mother and young girl reading
Parent (or grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor, etc.) volunteers play an important role in the Montessori community. By donating their time and talents, good volunteers make a huge difference in the lives of your Montessori students. It is important, therefore, to educate your volunteers on the philosophy of your Montessori school as well as their important role within your community.

Just as a parent handbook is important to communicate the philosophy and policies of your Montessori school, a volunteer handbook acquaints the helper with your expectations of a good volunteer. There should be a Montessori volunteer orientation meeting for those who are able to attend to go over the handbook and discuss areas where volunteers are needed. Following is a guideline of information to include in the Montessori Volunteer Handbook:

Parent Volunteers in the Montessori Community: Create a Montessori Volunteer Handbook

  • The role of the Montessori volunteer – Volunteers are important role models and should be respectful and set good examples for Montessori students. Loud voices and inappropriate language should not be used at school. While volunteering, it is not appropriate to hold private conversations with teachers or other volunteers. A good volunteer communicates openly with the Montessori teacher and frees the teacher to teach. Unless it is an emergency, the volunteer should not interrupt the teacher while she is working with her students.
  • A discussion on commitment – Volunteers should plan to arrive a bit early for their scheduled tasks in order to receive some direction. If for some reason, the volunteer is unable to attend, s/he should contact the person in charge as soon as possible in order to provide ample time to organize a replacement volunteer. The Montessori school also has a commitment to be prepared and to respect the time and talent of the volunteer.
  • Child care – Volunteers should not bring younger children with them. Their focus should be on the children in their care and the job at hand.
  • Reporting child abuse and neglect – Just as with teachers and administrators, school volunteers are required by law to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect. If the volunteer suspects child abuse or neglect, they need to report it immediately and confidentially to the Montessori classroom teacher or administrator.
  • Transportation of students – Volunteers should not transport students without prior permission.
  • Confidentiality – Volunteers, like teachers, are bound by strict rules of confidentiality. What is said or heard during volunteer hours at the Montessori school or a school function is to be kept confidential in order to respect and protect students and teachers.
  • Master volunteer list – see below.
Be Specific
Volunteers need to know what you need them to do and exactly what your expectations are. Setting out and communicating expectations clearly serves to avoid uncertainty and misunderstanding, and will enhance the Montessori volunteer experience. It helps to have a volunteer master list or calendar for both the Montessori school and individual classrooms. If presented at the beginning of the year, parents can plan ahead and choose the volunteer opportunities that are right for them.

When planning a Montessori volunteer master calendar, be sure to include the following:
    NAMC montessori community create parent volunteer handbook teacher on field trip
  • Date
  • Event Name
  • Job Function & Description
  • Estimated Time
  • Number of Volunteers Needed
  • A blank space to record names
Date Event Job Est. time Number Volunteers Names
Nov 1-5 Coat Drive Create flyers to send home & post on classroom doors 1 hr 1 1.__________
. . Place boxes in classrooms 30 mins 1 1.__________
. . Collect & deliver coats to chosen charity 1.5 hrs 2 1.__________ 2.__________
Dec 15 Holiday concert Parking lot attendants 1 hr before & 1/2 hr after concert 3 1.__________ 2.__________ 3.__________
. . Welcome and direct people to auditorium 30 mins 2 1.__________ 2.__________
. . Set up, serve, and clean up refreshments 2 hrs 4 1.__________ 2.__________ 3.__________ 4.__________

Volunteers are an integral part of keeping your Montessori school running smoothly. With a little advanced preparation and effective communication, you and your Montessori volunteers will have a positive, ongoing relationship.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, September 15, 2009.

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