I love driving on field trips and volunteering in my kids’ classrooms. It is the best way to get to know the teacher and, more important, learn about my sons and their friends – who is nice, who makes my boys laugh, who inspires them to achieve more academically.
So last week, I jumped at the chance to help out in kindergarten. But I quickly realized the problem with volunteering too early in the kindergarten year – other kids are ahead of mine.
Fortunately, this is my third. If it were my first child, my volunteer day might have sent me into a tailspin.
The first kids the parent volunteers got to know were mostly boys, and we spent our time trying to keep them quiet. My son was part of that group. They laughed out loud. They talked in excited voices. They scribbled pictures of brightly colored tornadoes and things exploding. Then, they made the noises that come with tornadoes and things exploding.
But as the morning wore on, we met a little boy who can read and write. He also created his own story to a book with no words, and then sang it to us. The parent volunteers all looked tentatively at each other. “Can your kid do that?”
Another little boy drew a beautiful picture of a house in the grass. A girl with long legs drew a perfect brown horse. “Can your kid do that?”
We shook our heads. Oh dear.
And the girls were so well-behaved, as they drew realistic pictures of flowers and hearts and rainbows. Said the mothers of boys, “They’re so quiet!”
“My son is definitely not that!”
“Well,” the parent volunteers laughed as we left that day, “we have a lot of work to do this weekend.”
It is hard to remember during those first few weeks of kindergarten that they will all learn to read. They are all coming from different preschools, where the focus on skills development varied. There is a big difference between just-turned-six and recently-turned-five. And the goal of the kindergarten teacher is to get them all where they need to be, while encouraging them to love the process of getting there.
Our kindergartners are going to grow a lot this year.
To give them time, maybe wait a few weeks before volunteering in the classroom. This from a mom who gets in there every chance she gets.