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LAUSD Parent Volunteer Guide

The start of the new school year is the perfect time to find out about volunteering at your child’s school. Most schools rely on volunteers to provide the extra assistance necessary for a variety of special programs and activities that might not be possible otherwise.

We hope you’ll find this Guide to Volunteering at LAUSD Schools to be helpful.

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has a series of steps that must be completed if you’re looking to become a school volunteer who can commit to a regular, consistent schedule (i.e. every Friday morning from 8:30 am to 10:30 am, for instance).

a line of school busses

Necessary Steps to Become a Volunteer at an LAUSD School

1. Prospective volunteers must complete the online volunteer application form. Step-by-step instructions for filling out the application form are available here.

2. Keep in mind, if you plan on volunteering at more than one school site, you must have a completed application, printed and signed, at each school before you can begin volunteering.

3.  If you plan to volunteer for a single event that happens during one school day (such as a class holiday party), volunteers do not need to complete this online application.

4. Prospective volunteers will also need to submit Tuberculosis (TB) test clearance.

5.  Prospective volunteers will also need to upload their COVID-19 vaccination card information to the Daily Pass.

6. Certain volunteer assignments will also require prospective volunteers to go through a fingerprinting process. Your school’s administrator will be able to let you know if fingerprints are required.

 7.  Your child’s school may also offer virtual volunteer opportunities in addition to on-campus volunteering. Be sure to check with your child’s school’s office to find out if virtual opportunities exist, if those interest you.

8. The best resource regarding volunteer opportunities is always your child’s school. In addition, LAUSD offers a Guide to Volunteering with more detailed explanations of the steps required. (The Guide is available in both English and Spanish.) 

A group of smiling multi-ethnic school kids running in a walkway outside their infant school building after a lesson

What do volunteers do on a school campus? 

Teachers often have very specific roles they need classroom volunteers to fill, including:

1.  Serve as a reading buddy.  This is an important job for all grade levels. English-language learners, beginning kindergarten readers, struggling upper grade readers will all benefit from the opportunity to read aloud for practice as well as the chance to hear you read to them. (Sometimes, reading buddies alternate reading aloud, one paragraph/page for the volunteer, one paragraph/page for the student.)

2.  Study partner.  There are plenty of students who aren’t fortunate enough to have an older sibling or adult at home who can help with a math assignment or help practice the week’s spelling words. That’s where a volunteer comes in.

3.  Oversee small groups. Most teachers don’t have the time or resources to work with students on an individual or small-group basis as often as they would like. Volunteers may work with the couple of students who were absent and missed the lesson on adverbs. Or, volunteers may work with the few students who just need a bit more practice with multiplying decimals. 

While on-campus volunteers are essential, there are also a number of ways to help your child’s teacher that don’t require you to be on campus at all. Talk to your child’s teacher and let them know you’d like to help but you just can’t volunteer in the classroom because your schedule is too full to commit to a regular volunteer day and time. Let your child’s teacher know you’re open to working on tasks that can be completed at home. 


A few at-home volunteer options:

1.  Sharpening pencils: One year, the mother of one of my students let me know her work schedule simply did not give her the flexibility to help out in the classroom. She knew I had a class of 30+ and no teaching assistant. During one conversation, I learned she had an electronic pencil sharpener at home, and I think my eyes lit up. We had found her special volunteer assignment. One Friday each month, I sent home a bunch of pencils that needed sharpening. The following Monday morning, my student returned the bunch of freshly sharpened pencils to me. That parent was my pencil sharpening volunteer, and it is not an overstatement to say she was a huge help and saved me a great deal of time. 

2.  Stapling:  Some teachers put together packets of work. Stapling isn’t difficult, but it can be time consuming. A parent willing to staple packets, something that can be done at home, is performing a much-needed, much-appreciated task.

3.  Cutting out shapes:  When I taught kindergarten, we did a lot of art projects. For every letter of the alphabet, students completed related worksheets and activities, including one project that required a cut-out shape for each letter (alligator for a, butterfly for b, etc.) I sent home the pattern, the paper, and in some cases the scissors, too. I let the parents know when I needed the shapes back (make sure you and the teacher are clear on the time frame), and they cut the shapes at home, completely around their schedule.

4. Filling goody bags:  Throughout the school year, I gave my students little goody bags. For Halloween, they received a fall-themed pencil and a few pieces of candy. On Valentine’s Day, they received another seasonal-themed pencil, a piece of candy, and a cute eraser. (Full disclosure – the volunteer who always helped me fill goody bags for my students? My mom.)

But that’s not all. Maybe you want to help out in the classroom, you just don’t want to commit to a weekly schedule. There are volunteer options available that put to use your special skills and talents and happen periodically throughout the year, instead of on a regular schedule. Such as:

1.  Class photographer. If you can commit to attending most, if not all, class events (i.e. winter performance, class parties, special in-class presentations), you may volunteer as class photographer. Talk to your child’s teacher to find out how they would prefer to get the images. Email? A thumb-drive? 

2.  Class shopper. Throughout the year, teachers shop for those “extra” items — items that aren’t technically required, but are necessary for the lesson or activity the teacher has planned. For instance, with my upper-grade students, I used to buy small tortillas and plastic utensils when our class was learning about equivalent fractions. As a class, we cut the tortillas into halves, then fourths, and then eighths. Suddenly, the concept that 4/8 is the same as 1/2 made a lot more sense to my students when they could see the fractions before them. A parent taking care of those shopping trips is a huge help to the classroom teacher.

3. After party cleanup. You may not be able to, or even want to, help out during the actual event — whether it’s a class potluck before Thanksgiving or an end-of-testing celebration in spring. But you can offer to come in after the event, and clean up. You, the wonderful parent volunteer, will be described as a lovely fairy godparent who came in, waved your magic wand, and removed all traces of crumbs and spills and mess. 

4.  Read aloud.   Perhaps you are the parent who does more than read to your child at bedtime, you perform. You do different voices for different characters. Any time a parent can come and read to a class, it’s a special time. But, a parent who does voices? That takes the reading to a whole other level of awesomeness.

Keep in mind, these are all suggestions. Ultimately the best volunteer experiences will result from honest communication between teacher and volunteer. Because when all is said and done, everyone is working towards the same goal — a healthy, safe, enriching school year during which each student has every opportunity to learn and grow and continue their development as a critical-thinking, problem-solving, compassionate individual. 

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

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