Yesterday I made another “mommy first”: I participated in the parent volunteer initiatives in Sam’s school and read a book to her class during their circle time. We picked the book Thank You for Me by Marlon Bauer, in light of the class’ Thanksgiving theme. I figured instead of reading to them about turkeys and the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations (none of which I am familiar with as we’d never really practiced Thanksgiving before) we could still read to them about being thankful for themselves.
On a regular basis Sam gets dropped off by her dad so that I could stay home with Jamie and let her sleep in. But because I signed up to be today’s “parent reader”, I took Sam in while my husband stayed home with Jamie. Sam seemed pleasantly surprised by this sudden change in routine, but she didn’t complain or ask her usual “Where’s Jamie?“. It is a rare occasion these days that we get to spend some time alone together.
At her classroom door she hugged me and said, “bye mom, see you later”, but I told her I was staying to read this book and asked her if it was okay. She of course nodded, and instead of normally running in to join her friends, she stayed beside me and held my hand until their teacher called me in. Normally when you put Sam in front of a book, she is absolutely engrossed in the story and will follow it to the very end; but this time, instead of sitting to face me along with all her other classmates, she sat beside me with her head down smiling shyly. I took it to mean that she actually liked it that I was there and I confirmed it at pick-up time when she said “Yes!” with another big smile at the memory of it all. She then brought me another book and said, “Can you read this one in school tomorrow Mom?”
I was pleased with the entire experience, mostly because I felt that it meant a lot to Sam to see me in her class. She probably doesn’t comprehend the whole idea as much as an older child would when they see their parents volunteer to help out with activities in class… but I guess it’s never too early to start. My friend T (incidentally she also pens a blog called Teacupmoments), who volunteered a lot in her daughter’s school last year, believes that it’s important for kids to see you there because it subconsciously tells them you take interest in what they do at school. It also makes them feel secure to know you’re “around” every now and then, particularly if they see that the parents of their classmates are around, every now and then as well.
I can’t deny that I liked it; I liked being a part of Sam’s day at school no matter how brief; and I got to see what they normally do at that time (as compared to viewing a printed schedule, or watching from behind closed doors). I am that type of parent who wants to be involved in their child’s learning development. You can ask all of Sam’s teachers, I am the one with the most questions, suggestions, and emails. I stay longer than the rest at pick up to see if she ate, or did her work, or played well with the other kids. I know, I know… that can be both a good and bad thing and some teachers will not appreciate that. So far, to all of Sam’s teachers’ credit, none of them have thought me to be over the top, and all have understood my “heavy involvement” (to put it nicely) and 20 questions. One of them said to me that I am just being a parent through and through.
Really though, I wouldn’t mind volunteering in my kids’ classes on a regular basis. That is of course, assuming that they would want me there in the first place! Of course I know as they get older the parents’ involvement evolves as well; but in the meantime I am perfectly content with the idea that I get to spend time with my daughter in her school setting. It helps me get to know their teachers better and understand the how’s and the why’s of their curriculum. I can reinforce behavior or lessons that are taught in the class, and vice-versa. I am quite happy that the pre-schools here in Chapel Hill promote that kind of parent-teacher-child interaction in the classroom, and I wish that whatever other school my girls end up going to next, that they too can foster that kind of relationship with the parents.
As we are on the subject, here’s an article I found on why you should volunteer in your child’s class.