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Occasionally it might be necessary or useful for a nursery or school to ask for parent helpers - you may wish to go on a trip or need extra supervisors to visit a local landmark. This is great for the parents to get involved, great for the children whose parents are being invited to come along... but it can be less than great for the childcare providers or teachers unless the guidelines are laid down in advance. You don't want the parent just helping their own child and tending to their needs and theirs' alone to the detriment of other little ones.
- Choose the parents carefully - if you can, invite those you know are level-headed and reliable.
- Put parents in charge of a group that doesn't include their child.
- Give parents clear guidelines of what you need from them and what is expected.
- Introduce them to the children and say, loudly, so that the parent hears "Mrs XX will be looking after all of you today." Just so its clear to the parents its not just their own child being taken care of.
- Make sure timings are made clear so parents leave when you wish to return to normality.
- Find out if any parents have any special skills that might be of interest to the children or help... e.g. gardening, sewing costumes etc.
Guidelines for Parent Helpers could include information such as:
- Emergency telephone numbers and all staff numbers in case of separation.
- How often and how to count and keep track of the children.
- Any special needs, equipment, diets or allergies of the children.
- Exact route, timetable and itinerary of trip.
- Reminder about taking the children to the toilet during the trip.
- Make sure they are not over familiar with the children.
- Be clear about importance of confidentiality and encourage discretion.
Parent helpers do not have to be CRB checked if they are working with children in groups and alongside other qualified practioners but they should be CRB checked if they are going to be alone at any time with the children.