I am very blessed this year to only have one child at home, and he is in preschool for 2 hours and 15 minutes, twice a week. Those two mornings have opened up a lot of possibilities for me. I jumped at the chance to use that time to volunteer at my older children’s school.
Schools need volunteers. Constantly. Teachers are so busy doing paperwork and grading and preparing lessons and dealing with parents or administration that there is very little time left for them to actually teach their classes. They each need a secretary so they have time to do the job they were trained for and hired to do. Volunteers make the life of teachers so much easier by coming in and making photocopies or gathering supplies for lessons. When Aiden was in first grade I often went in to his class and helped out students as they went through their Center Work. In a class of 25 students, it’s hard for a teacher to be everywhere at once. It was nice for this teacher to have someone else in there who could make sure certain students were understanding something or getting something read. When I was in elementary school I remember each class having a full time teacher’s aide. Those don’t exist anymore, thanks to massive cuts in education. So parent volunteers are able to come in and pick up the slack.
My sons are overall good kids. They are smart, funny, and engaging. However, they are very active and struggle with staying focused and on task. They are also quite emotional. It helps my sons to see me come in and just to know that Mom is there to help out. Usually I can give my son a pointer or two, get him back on task, and then help out other students who need more help than my own do. It’s a win-win situation. I go in to support my own sons. To let them know that Mom cares about what is going on for them in school and Mom is a part of things. It is comforting to my boys and is a huge help in their behavior.
This year I am volunteering regularly in two areas: kindergarten and the school library. In kindergarten I go to school with my kids every Wednesday morning and take charge of a small group (7 kids, including Dallin) for “Project Hallway”. A table is set out in the hallway and I get to read a story that has to do with that week’s theme, then help the kids work on a little art project. It is almost always coloring, cutting, and gluing. It’s been fun to see the progress of these 7 kids throughout the year, and to get to know them and their little personalities, too. Project Hallway is only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, but the other two moms are easy to trade with when one of us has something come up (such as when Parker has a field trip or another mom has a work meeting). I won’t give up Project Hallway. I have committed myself to this, and I enjoy doing it. I’m never there for longer than 45 minutes. It’s not much, but it’s something.
On Mondays I volunteer in the school library. I started doing that after working at the book fair and talking to the librarians and realizing how much they have on their plates. I like the library because I love being surrounded by books and it’s relatively quiet. This year I have helps sort books, categorize books, label books, and stuff fliers. The librarian teaches a lesson to every single class in the school. She only has one assistant. This is a K through 8 school, so there is a lot of work to do. I know that I am making life a little bit easier by coming in and doing these things for them. I only work for 2 hours, while Parker is in preschool, and I don’t have to go in if I don’t feel like it. There is no strong commitment, but I feel good about going in regularly. I know they appreciate what I do in there. And they are just fun ladies to talk to in between classes.
I like to go on field trips with my kids. Not all parents do. Not all parents can. I can. I am a stay at home mom, and while no, I can’t always afford to go, I also feel like I can’t afford not to go. My kids appreciate me being there. And I get to see my kids in an different environment and experience new and fun things with them. I also get to meet other parents and get to know them. Makes it easier to make friends and feel comfortable with my kid going to their house after school.
It’s the same thing with class parties. I don’t like to be in charge, but I am more than willing to help out in any way I can. I have to pick and choose now that I have more than one child at school, but I do the best I can and my kids understand that they have to take turns having mom around. Sometimes I don’t do much more than stand around and make sure the kids are able to do their craft, or I make sure they aren’t getting cupcake crumbs all over the floor. It’s not about what I do, however. It’s about my presence. My kids need my presence.
I spend about 3 hours a week in my kids’ school and the occasional class party and field trip. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of me. I can do it. Sometimes life gets a little crazy and I have to rearrange my schedule (because I can’t take Parker in with me on the days I have to trade or anything) and that gets kind of hectic. However, I will not quit volunteering. I feel it’s too important for me, for my kids’ school, and most of all, for my kids.