each tuesday (as long as no one is barfing up a lung or something) i go to the kids' school to volunteer. i tried to help at school a few years back, and had trouble committing since s was still at home with me and t's schedule was crazy. last year, i attempted to join and contribute to the pta instead, an endeavor that ultimately ended up crashing and burning... THANKFULLY before i lost my sanity. since i really do enjoy the kids, and have much more time on my hands now, i thought it would be better to go back to helping KIDS, and the teachers of my kids in particular. this has been a resounding success for all, and the best part is I LOVE IT and look forward to every tuesday.
first of all, theirs is a small country k-8 school, and a very warm and inviting place. if the pay for a fun job like assistant teacher weren't so ridiculously low, i'd be working there full-time in a heartbeat! as it stands, i go in at 9:30 to help in s's kindergarten. i then proceed to have lunch with her class, then h's 2nd grade class, then help out during the 2nd grade "workshops." sometimes i'm home by 1:30.
kindergarten is a riot. this bunch is loud, funny, crazy and smart, although prone to the immature. the teacher and i were trying to figure out WHY today, and discovered that many of them are the babies of their families! interesting, huh? mostly what i do there is tutor kids individually on alphabet, sounds, words or sentences depending on their ability level. the spectrum is broad... some are reading books, while others only know a few capital letters. occasionally i'm pressed into service doing crafts, monitoring recess, filing papers or passing out snacks... you name it, i do it.
lunch is really pretty boring because for me it ends up to be almost an hour long. and that school food! do you remember it? sometimes lunch is uneventful, with the kindergartners competing for my attention on pointless knock-knock jokes, or needing help opening their milk cartons. the second graders are really into making fart noises with their armpits or asking you to spell "i cup" for them. today was much more eventful as a boy in s's class barfed all over the lunchroom floor and i was left in charge of 19 five- and six- year olds while the teacher took him to change his clothes and to call his mom (the assistant teacher was home sick). instead of having lunch with h, i took mercy on the k teacher as she had had no bathroom break and virtually no lunch, and returned to her class to help her some more.
the second graders are shockingly smart, and much more independent than the kindergartners. i "float" through the room, helping anybody that needs assistance on whatever task they're on. it's SO much easier for the most part than the little kids, but today the big kids were SO full of giggles and wiggles. it was a "sit down and FOCUS!" kind of day, and a kid in h's class also was sick (we got him out before he could barf) causing some drama for the whole group.
normally i'd go home at this point, but taking pity on the kindergarten teacher, i helped her wrap up a few loose ends before leaving.
and i'll do it all over again each and every tuesday! i feel so lucky to be able to know my kids' school, teachers, and friends so well, and it also gives me a frame of reference as to what their curriculum is, as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. also, both my kids and the kids in their classes are so glad to have me there, and i get so many smiles and hugs. it's incredibly rewarding, and i hope i can continue to volunteer for the rest of my kids' school careers.