September 23, 2017

A Not So Helpful Helper

I am in awe of how Kindergarten teachers handle their classrooms.

For several weeks I have been volunteering in Nicole’s classroom. I manage the art table and math table once a week when the students break into small groups. Last week the math table was cutting out “topping” shapes and gluing them onto their “pizza.” They then created a graph of how many of each toppings there were. I was too focused on the art table and didn’t notice one of the students at the math gluing the left over paper scraps to the table until it was too late. This week I was determined to keep a better eye on the math table. While helping them with their calendars, two of the students at the art table started dueling with their scissors.

I fear I’m not a very effective helper. My only solace is that those things would have also likely happened had I not been there.

Despite the chaos I greatly enjoy volunteering in Nicole’s classroom. It’s been a handy way for me to get the inside scoop and see what the range of skills are. There are some kids who are amazingly ahead and could probably skip ahead to first grade if our district wasn’t such a stickler for the age cutoffs, and some for who all this is clearly new. Seeing the range of where the kids are for each skill set helps me see where I need to focus our efforts at home.

As a parent, it’s definitely beneficial to get an up close view of the teacher in action. I attended the school night where her teacher discussed the skill sets the teacher felt most valuable. Kindergarten has a little of everything in their curriculum, but the emphasis is on learning to read. Seeing her teacher in action and how she works gives me ideas on how I can best encourage Nicole at home while doing homework, and how I can work in reading and writing even on math or science projects. Nicole’s teacher keeps a folder of “early finisher” worksheets, and I was able to find similar worksheets at home that we could practice with.

I also enjoy the access it provides to the teacher. I am a classic over thinker with a tendency to dwell, so waiting for a parent teacher conference to ask a question isn’t always a practical approach for me. I also don’t want to be a pest with constant emails. I can ask quick questions during recess while the kids are all playing that don’t feel important enough to warrant an email.

I might not be the best parent volunteer, but volunteering has helped me be a better kindergarten parent.

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