Every other Tuesday morning I spend 90 minutes or so volunteering in Little D’s first grade classroom.
When we decided to go the public school route for her (or rather, our bank accounts decided for us) we knew it would involve a lot of extra effort on our part, both in and outside of school, to ensure she was getting everything she needs. The reality is, public school today is very different from public school in our day and we knew that the savings in money would mean some extra expenditures in time and effort.
We just didn’t know it would be so valuable.
Volunteering in her class means stapling work packets together, correcting work sheets, doing reading groups with some of the kids, helping them log-in for computer lab, making photo copies (oddly the most stressful part of the gig for me – I have always hated copy machines and they hate me, too). It means the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and worn-in schoolbooks. It means miniature chairs and trying to keep track of names…all 33 of them.
But it also means a front-row seat to see how the teacher interacts with the kids…all 33 of them. How my daughter interacts with her. And her classmates. And me, being in the room. It means seeing my daughter in a new light. Turns out she’s not always the one sitting up the straightest or shooting her hand up into the air first or finishing her worksheet in record time – even though she can be. She actually prefers to sit back sometimes and let someone else be the front-runner. It’s not because she doesn’t know the answer or want that gold star, it’s because she’s ok to let someone else have it. It was interesting for me to see her in that way. And to be proud of it. To let her find her pace and her voice and her friends – and just to watch it all unfold.
I am very lucky that I can find the time with my flexible work schedule to have this 90 minutes every two weeks where I am fully and completely tuned into her world and nothing else. Where I am seeing so much more beyond her education and that classroom. I know not every parent can. But hopefully you can find a similar time somehow, somewhere, to really observe your child in their environment. To see them for who they are and not what you want them to be. To watch and listen without saying a word. To volunteer some of your time in order to get so much back in return.
I am really starting to love every other Tuesday morning.