1. Gain support.
Everyone needs to agree that increasing parent participation with the Give Me Five programme is a good idea. The success of the programme requires the support of all groups in the school or centre – PTA or parent committee, Board of Trustees, teachers, staff and administrators. Many schools and centres already have a parent group, so this is often a good place to start the discussion.
2. Co-ordinate efforts.
You will need to find someone to co-ordinate the Give Me Five programme. The co-ordinator is often a volunteer from the PTA or parent group. The co-ordinator’s role is to keep track of Give Me Five volunteers and the activities and jobs that need to be done so people can be ‘plugged in’ to the school or centre.
3. Develop a list of suitable jobs and activities.
Again, this requires input from all the groups in the school or centre. Be creative to come up with an interesting and inclusive range that will be appropriate for the diversity of families in your community. This information is used on your Volunteer Sign-up Form. Remember, it is only a start and will be constantly added to as the programme develops. Now is also a good time to consider any information or training that volunteers might require so that they are well prepared for the task.
4. Launch the programme.
Print out the Give Me Five forms and promotional material and promote the programme to your families. The most effective kick-off is during a well-attended family event, like welcome night, concert, gala, or parent/teacher conferences.
5. Keep promoting the programme.
Follow the launch with posters around the school or centre, and information in the newsletter or on the website. Include information in welcome packs for new families. Use the Give Me Five logo on everything that deals with parent involvement and volunteering. When advertising a meeting, conducting a survey or asking for volunteers, highlight the Give Me Five time earned by participating. Aim to receive two Volunteer Sign-up Forms from each family. As well as parents, they can be from uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc.
6. ‘Plug in’ parents.
Send home an acknowledgement of their promise once a signed form is returned,. The information that volunteers provide on these forms will help you match them up with the best jobs for them.
7. Provide information and training.
Volunteers will feel much more comfortable in the school or centre if they know exactly what is expected of them and there are clear boundaries set.
8. Communicate volunteer needs.
Use a team of skilled communicators to keep contacting parents throughout the year to make sure that everyone gets involved and fulfils their promise. Make sure there is always a current list of Give Me Five jobs and activities available in the main office so that parents who drop in can participate immediately.
9. Keep track. Use Volunteer Sign-in Sheets to keep track of volunteer hours.
Keep one in a prominent place in the office so volunteers can sign-in and out or record work completed at home. A team of volunteers can tally up individual’s hours on the Give Me Five Records spreadsheet. These records are primarily used to recognise the contribution of individual volunteers, but the data can also be used to demonstrate the value of parent participation programmes for the whole school or centre. Advertise how many volunteer hours were given each month.
10. Recognise volunteers.
Recognise families when they make the promise to Give Me Five through displays and newsletters. Send home a Certificate of Appreciation that congratulates the parent for keeping their promise. Recognise volunteers at school functions or meetings. Have special activities or rewards for Give Me Five participants, eg. workshops, social evening, or discount vouchers for local businesses.
11. Evaluate and improve.
Seek feedback from families and teachers about how the programme is working. It won’t all happen overnight, and there will always be room for improvements. We would love to hear and share your great ideas too. Please email your feedback and ideas to us.