How Parents Can Help Classroom Creativity

Parents can contribute to classroom creativity by getting involved to help teachers and students with time and ideas to promote supplemental learning.

If you ever visit your children's school classroom, you may have noticed that the teachers are typically very busy offering lessons to the students and perhaps providing individual tutoring as time allows.

There is very little time for the fringe benefits of the classroom experience, such as exhibits, hands-on activities, and off-campus field trips. When these do occur, teachers often require and greatly appreciate parental assistance.

But there is more a parent might do to enhance the learning experience in a classroom. Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Find out about local field trip opportunities. While schools sometimes receive information about regional learning experiences, it takes time to browse the literature, telephone directors for clarification, and make contact with teachers and parents to arrange a day, set the fee, and plan for transportation. Parents who are willing to gather information and help plan student outings can save a great deal of time and facilitate such events. Check with the principal or teachers to see if this is an area you can help with.

2. Offer to donate a classroom project or pet. From caged mice to an ant hill, or baby blossoms in the spring to a "nature table" in fall, parents can help organize these activities by working with the teacher to plan for logistics, such as where the project will be housed, who will manage it during the school day, and how will it be cared for over weekends and breaks, if needed. Someone who can plan hands-on learning experiences like these can relieve the pressure on teachers to supply creative opportunities that go above and beyond textbook activities.

3. Working with the parent-teacher association, you may want to organize a subgroup of parents to help decorate classrooms. Or you can suggest ways that the students can design attractive displays in the class or hallway areas. From dried leaves to living plants or hand-made decals, there are dozens of ways that color, scents, and tactile exhibits can enliven a learning area. Browse Internet Web sites or visit the local library for ideas on how to brighten a classroom area. Depending on the age group, alphabet wall hangings, educationally-oriented posters, celebrity images endorsing education, and attractive mottoes, rules, values, or guidelines, as well as cultural displays from other races or nations can provide a living educational environment.

4. Help plan seasonal events. A classroom flower show at the beginning of fall is a great way to teach children biological principles and aesthetic appreciation. A mid-winter art display encourages students to work their hardest to create lovely art pieces for others' enjoyment. And in spring, budding sweet potato plants or other kinds of hands-on activities helps to relay the freshness of the spring.

5. Parents can also foster creativity by offering to teach the class a special skill. Computer basics, camping techniques, harmonica folk music, or Russian language skills can be offered as a one-time introductory session, or as weekly 15- to 30-minute increments that supplement the regular curriculum. Take a personal inventory to find out which skills you might be able to volunteer to teach. Then find out if the school is interested in offering them.

If you are too busy to work on these now, perhaps a neighbor, family member, or senior citizen might be interested in getting involved, so pass the word! With tight educational budgets and hectic classroom schedules, an energetic parent or two can make the difference between an education that is functional and one that is fun.

© High Speed Ventures 2011