Volunteer‎ > ‎

Room Parent Guidelines


Dear Parents:

Thank you for volunteering to be room parents.  Throughout the school year, please refer to the attached guidelines, and keep in mind the following points:
  1. For experienced room parents, much of this will be a review.  However, all room parents should read this document in full, paying particular attention to the sections on class funds, teacher gifts and end-of-the year festivities.

  2. This packet contains information for all grade levels.  Please coordinate with your teacher to address items that are grade appropriate and that the teacher identifies as a priority.
  3. Please do not try to take on all of this work by yourself.  You should solicit other parents for assistance.

  4. The PTA encourages same-grade room parents to coordinate with each other when planning parties, so they can share ideas, keep costs down, and spread tasks among more people. 
  5. This packet should serve as a guideline, but teachers and room parents have the flexibility to make adjustments that work for their classrooms.  The role of room parents may vary slightly from class to class.  Ask teachers how you can help and be respectful of their preferences.

  6. Please copy me on all significant room parent correspondence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you again for contributing to the success of BHES.

Room Parent Guidebook

Classroom Volunteer & Room Parent Sign-Up

Juliet Hoopes
PTA –Volunteer Chair 

PTA-Required Room Parent Activities

  1. Attend Volunteer Training Workshop:
    At the workshop, room parents will receive current information about school policies regarding in-classroom volunteering, and will have the opportunity to ask questions about information in the Room Parent Guide.    

  2. Collect Class Fund:
    The class fund is to be collected by the room parents at the beginning of the school year. The PTA recommends a contribution of $15 per child in grades K-4 and $25 per child in grade 5.
    • Ask for donationsWhile full parent participation in the class fund is the desired outcome, it is optional and no one should be pressured to give. Please convey to parents that contribution is optional.  You may send reminder emails and additional notes in the Monday Whale Folders to maximize participation. Both the emails and notes should be sent to all parents in the class in order to prevent the singling-out of any particular parent(s).     

    • Use of fundsThe class fund is used to pay for the class Halloween party, class Valentine’s Day Party, and a small end-of-year treat.  Additional fifth-grade monies fund an end-of-year class gift to the school.    

    • Exercise reasonable spendingFrom the class fund, you should spend approximately $5-$7 per student on the Halloween Party, $5-$7 per student on the Valentine’s Day Party, and $2.50 per student on the end-of-year treat. 

      • Class funds often vary greatly at the end of the year depending on whether or not families donate party items to the class parties and how many families contribute to the class fund. Teacher appreciation gifts should not be determined by the amount remaining in class funds, but rather by the sentiment of the parents. Therefore, if a significant portion of the class fund is left at the end of the year, the room parents have several options for how to spend the remaining funds.

        • Room parents can consider using some or all of the money for the class gift rather than taking a new collection.

        • Remaining funds may go toward classroom needs identified by the teacher or a charity of the class’s choosing.

        • Room parents may also write a check to Bradley Hills Elementary School in the amount of the remaining funds and the money will go toward school purchases.

        •  Fifth grade classes should use their remaining funds for the gift to the school.  
    • Keep records and report spendingAs a room parent, you are the custodian of the class funds. You are required to keep records of the money collected and all expenditures.  A summary of the class fund collections and expenses should be available to the PTA Volunteer Chair if requested.  You must also provide these records to any class parent who requests them.    

    • Reimburse parentsIn order to help ensure accurate accounting, it is important that you encourage parents to submit receipts for reimbursement.  Some parents may choose not to be reimbursed.  However, you should ask, and promptly reimburse those who submit receipts to you.     

    • Teacher GiftsTeacher gifts are given at the end of the year and prior to the December holidays. Gift giving is always optional.    

      • Holiday giftsTraditionally, BHES families give individual gifts at the holiday time and do not do group gifts. However, if your class prefers, it may give a group teacher gift.  Room parents can choose to take a collection at the beginning of the school year in conjunction with the class fund drive or do a separate collection before the holidays.  Please remind families they may give an optional gift. If they choose to give a personal gift, its value may not exceed $20.00 per family, in accordance with MCPS guidelines.    

      • End of the year giftsAs during the holidays, your class may choose to do a group gift or individual gifts. If there is a significant amount of money left in the class fund at the end of the year, it may be used in part or in its entirety for the end-of-year teacher appreciation gift. If there is not a significant amount of money left or the room parents and class decide to use that money for other purposes (see above suggestions) you may solicit additional donations from the class. You may suggest a specific donation amount up to a maximum of $20 per family, but you must inform parents that donations and the donation amount are optional.  The end-of-year gift collection can take place at the beginning of the year in conjunction with class fund collection if the room parents feel this would be a convenience.

        • In addition to, or in lieu of, a group gift, families may give individual gifts at the end of the year. Please let each family know it is their decision how they would like to thank the teacher.  MCPS requests families do not give gifts with a value exceeding $20.
    3.   Create and Maintain Class Contact Lists:
Parents and teachers use these lists to communicate with the class and individual parents.  Please check periodically with the teacher and update the lists as students join or leave the class during the year.
    • You can collect contact information through the following means:
      • TeacherHe/she may have collected information at Sneak-a-Peek.    

      • Note in foldersUsually the easiest way to collect information is to put a form in Monday folders asking parents to provide names and email addresses. 

      • Last Year’s Directory (for grades 1-5): If you have a class list (your teacher or the PTA volunteer chair may be able to provide you one) and a school directory from the previous year, you can find most email addresses for returning students.    

      • Directory CoordinatorIf you are still looking for contact information a few weeks into the school year, you may try to contact the Directory Coordinator who can provide you with contact information for the families who have opted to be in the directory. This year our Directory Coordinator is Valerie Hollis (valerie@hollisweb.net).
    • Class Information ListPlease provide the teacher and each family with an electronic and/or hard copy of the class list containing contact information for each family. This list, to the extent possible, should contain each child’s name, names of parents/guardians, and email addresses.  Please have parents confirm they receive this list (an email back to you) in case addresses were misentered or old addresses need to be updated (if you have used last year’s directory, for example, to collect information.)     

    • Group email listYou should create a group email list to facilitate communication with parents. Email is the best way to announce events and solicit volunteers.

    4.   Contact/Welcome New Students:
Throughout the year, new students may join the classroom. Please extend a welcome to these students and their families and let them know they can contact you if they have questions.  Revise the class contact list and distribute it to the class via email and/or Monday Whale Folders.

    5.   Plan Halloween and Valentine’s Day Parties:
Please ensure that all parents coordinating classroom parties understand these guidelines:
    • Confer with the TeacherThe teacher will tell you the date and time for the party. Ask the teacher if he/she has already planned party-related activities/games or if he/she has recommendations. Run all activities or snacks by the teacher for approval – the teacher will have information about children with specific allergies.     

    • Be mindful of the budgetApproximately $5-$7 per student from the class fund should be spent on each of these parties.     

    • Coordinate with Same Grade-Level Room Parents: If it makes sense, you can work with the room parents in other classes to share ideas and buy supplies in bulk.     

    • Solicit Help from Other Parents: Room parents plan and oversee the parties, but should solicit other parent volunteers to help. Parties are parent-driven. Do not assume the teacher will be one of the helpers. Ask for 4-5 parents to volunteer at the party and assign them to stations. Assign 1-2 parents to arrive early to set up and a few parents to stay after the party to clean up.     

    • Younger siblings: Per school policy, please inform parent volunteers that they may not bring younger siblings to class parties.  Parties require the full attention of volunteers and there won’t be enough craft supplies and food for additional children. 

    • Plan a Party Snack: Inquire about any food allergies in the class so you can buy an appropriate snack. Parents of kids with allergies may want to send in an individual snack that is similar to what you are serving to the class.  All party food must be store-bought and in unopened packages. Please feel free to contact the PTA Wellness Committee Chairs for a list of party snack ideas.     

    • Plan Activities: Use the Internet, magazines, and teachers as resources for party ideas. Suggested stations include one snack station, one arts and crafts station (avoid particularly messy projects), and one or more stations for games. You may also provide music.     

    • Prepare Crafts: Try out crafts before party day to ensure that they are appropriate for the skill level of the class and work well. Prep all materials for crafts in advance to save time during the party.     

    • Avoid Prizes and Keep Favors Simple: The PTA discourages awarding prizes for games unless all kids receive one, especially in the younger grades. The arts and crafts project can serve as a party favor.  If you opt for additional favors, please make sure they are simple and inexpensive.  

    • Set Up and Clean Up: Parent volunteers, not teachers or custodial staff, are responsible for party set up and clean up. Please be respectful and do not leave your teacher with a messy room.     

    • Reimburse Expenses: When you or other class parents purchase items for the party (e.g., food, decorations, craft supplies, etc.), remember to reimburse expenses from the class fund. Some parents may choose to donate the items.  However, you should always ask if they would like to be reimbursed.    

    6.   Plan End-of-Year Party:
Each classroom or grade plans a small end-of-year treat. Please coordinate with the teacher to determine the best way to end the year.
    • Keep it simple: Unless otherwise directed by the teacher, please plan this treat for the last full day of school, and keep it small and simple.  If the timing works out with yearbook distribution, this is a great time for students to sign each other’s yearbooks, reminisce about their year together and bring the school year to a close.     

    • Coordinate across classes: No more than $2.50 per student should be required to execute this party.  You may want to coordinate with the other room parents in your grade and combine resources to buy the special snack in bulk. You may consider arranging a grade-level party of popsicles outside or a make-your-own ice cream sundae bar.     

    • Present a class gift: This is the perfect time to thank the teacher.  If the room parents have collected donations from parents for a class gift, you may want to present the gift at this time.  For more information on class gift requirements, please refer to the section on teacher gifts.     

    7.   Schedule Classroom Volunteers:
Discuss with classroom teachers their classroom volunteering needs.   Act as the liaison between the teacher and classroom parents to set up classroom volunteers.  Sign-up genius is a helpful tool that allows parents to sign up at their convenience for open spots in the volunteer schedule.  Volunteering needs may include stuffing Monday whale folders, copying, laminating, or working with students during reading, math or writing instruction.
    • Help Stuff Monday Folders: Monday “Whale” Folders are used to send home all school, PTA and MCPS communication. Material is collected throughout the week and sent home on the following Monday. In general, parents stuff Monday Folders for students in the lower grades; in most upper grade classes, the students are responsible for this process. Please check with your teacher regarding their class procedure. Please make sure all parents who stuff folders are aware of the following:     
      • Timing: All folders will be stuffed on Mondays. It’s best to come in during lunch and recess when the students are not in class.  If you are not able to come at this time and class is in session when you arrive, please be discreet when collecting the materials.  Find out in advance whether the teacher would prefer that you fill the folders outside of the classroom if the students are in the room.     

      • Process: Check in with the teacher for materials or your teacher may leave them out for you. Also check with the school office for additional materials.  If you find you don’t have enough of a particular sheet, first make sure you have followed the YIF procedure below.  If you are still short check with the office.     

      • YIF: In an effort to save paper, all materials, except class-specific/individual student papers (i.e., worksheets, teachers’ letters), will go to students designated YIF, Youngest-in-Family. The teacher will either provide a YIF list to the volunteer or YIF will be marked on the student’s folder. Please ask your teacher for the YIF information if it isn’t readily available.     
    • Schedule Classroom Copying and Laminating Help: Room parents may be asked to schedule parents to help with copying and laminating.  

      • Timing: Ask the teacher what day of the week works best for copying. Schedule volunteers on that particular day each week.  Volunteers can come in any time of day that works for them.   
Please make sure copy/laminating volunteers are aware of the following (instructions): 
      • Copier’s responsibilitiesCheck in with the teacher for the materials and directions. Teachers from the same grade may combine their materials for the volunteer to copy all at once. 
      • Copying protocolUse the copy machine in the main office suite.  Directions are available in the folders on the wall near the entrance of the main office. Ask Mrs. Knight or Ms. Harris if you need assistance with the machine (including paper jams), but please be respectful if they are busy. Avoid copying during peak teacher copying hours of 8:30-8:45am. If a teacher comes in while you are copying, interrupt your job and let the teacher go ahead of you.    

      • Laminator:  The laminator is located in the Staff Work Room.  The machine takes about 15 minutes to heat up.  Please unplug it when you are finished.  Please feel free to talk to Media Specialist Ms. Miglianti or Media Assistant Mrs. Newman for further information.     

    • Writing Instruction Assistance: Room parents may be asked to schedule volunteers to help in the classroom for Writers’ Workshop or during other writing periods. Ask the teacher what he/she would like volunteers to do and how often they would like volunteers to help.    

    • Math Instruction Assistance: Room parents may be asked to schedule volunteers to help in the classroom during math instruction. Ask the teacher what he/she would like volunteers to do and how often they would like volunteers to help.    

    • Language Arts/Centers AssistanceRoom parents may be asked to schedule parents to help in the classroom during Language Arts, especially in kindergarten. Ask the teacher what he/she would like volunteers to do and how often they would like volunteers to help.

    8.   Coordinate Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week:
Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week will be held May 11 -15, 2015.  During this time, the PTA provides tokens of appreciation to the Bradley Hills staff.
    • The PTA Staff Appreciation Committee Chair will contact room parents about the gifts/activities that are planned for the week. For example, the students may be asked to make their teacher a card or write a poem.    

    • Room parents should communicate the plan to the class and send email reminders to encourage maximum class participation.    

    • The Staff Appreciation Committee may provide prizes and gifts to teachers throughout the week. A class group gift is not necessary at this time. Provide parents with the opportunity to donate optional, additional funds to thank the teacher at the end of the year. 

    9.   Plan 5th Grade Class Gift to School (5th Grade Only):
Historically, the 5th grade class gives BHES a class gift. The students generate ideas for the gift (with guidance from the 5th grade teachers and the principal). Money from the class fund pays for the gift, and if desired, students may raise additional money. Room parents work in conjunction with the 5th grade liaison to assist students with planning and coordination of securing this gift and additional fundraising events, if necessary. 

Other Potential Room Parent Responsibilities*

  • Authors Day: Once a year, classes celebrate the work the children put into creating and publishing their writings. The teachers select the date, time, theme, and format of the celebrations. The room parents help by promoting the event to the class and encouraging parent attendance.    

  • Maintain Class Library: Most classes have a class library of books the students may select to read during DEAR Time (Drop Everything And Read).  These books frequently become unorganized and need straightening and/or organizing.     

  • Bulletin Boards, Paper Cutting and Other Classroom Assistance: Room parents may offer help themselves or find volunteers to help with classroom tasks like changing bulletin boards or cutting construction paper. Teachers appreciate any assistance that will allow them more time to focus on educating the children.     

  • Special Projects: On occasion, teachers will ask for assistance with special projects such as community service activities and science projects.  Ask the teacher what his/her needs are and recruit parents to help.     
*If the teacher would like volunteers to receive specific training before helping in class, please contact the Volunteer Chair, and she will help to arrange this training.  

Above all, have fun!  Enjoy this special opportunity to get to know your child’s teacher, classmates and the BHES community.  Thank you very much for your commitment to Bradley Hills and please feel free to reach out with any questions.