All right. I've had a bit of frustration building the last few days. Weeks. Months. Years. Might as well just set it all free. Right Here. Right Now.
Here's the scoop. For the last two years I haven't been able to volunteer much up at school. Abbie's Kindergarten year was spent moving our family from location to location -- finally ending up here right after school got out.
Last year, Kait was in preschool at the Met -- a 25 minute drive away. The time I spent going back and forth five days a week really ate up most of my free time. But I still managed to work on Yearbook, so I did play volunteer role at the school.
I understand busy. I understand how commitments get in the way of volunteerism. I understand how a job can completely take over your life.
But here's the deal. This year, I've spent a LOT of time in the kids' school. As a parent, as a guest teacher, as a volunteer. I've had a first-hand look at how important it is for parents to be active volunteers in their children's schools. And I'm beginning to think that private schools that actually require parents to volunteer have the right idea.
As I've spent day after day bouncing from classroom to classroom, I've seen how a few regular parent volunteers can make a HUGE difference in the education of all the kids in the classroom. Nowhere does this shine as brightly as in Kindergarten. In Kinder, you have kids who don't even possess the basic social skills needed to function in that setting thrown in with kids who are already working on a first-grade level. And there's absolutely every level in between.
There is no easy solution for our educational system. As a parent, I find it very frustrating at times. Kaitlyn went into Kinder already reading some. She could count to 1000 and was absolutely ready. Other children come in not knowing their colors or numbers or even their letters.
And God bless the Teachers who have to take these rooms full of children who are on a bajillion different levels and somehow channel that into a cohesive group where everyone learns. I get the "No Child Left Behind" philosophy. And it's a good one. Let's prepare these kids for what lies ahead. But we also need a "No Child Slowed Down" program for the kids who are ready for more. Teachers have to spend so much time bringing the low-performing students up, and dealing with all the emotionally messed-up stuff, that it's difficult to address the needs of the higher-performing students.
And that's where parent volunteers come in. With a healthy group of parent volunteers, the dynamic totally shifts. It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. You don't have to have a teaching degree. Simply come into the classroom an hour or two a week and read with these kiddos. They just need to practice. If you do that, it gives the teacher a bit of extra time to spend with other students. Or come in and read with the good readers who thrive with that kind of attention as well.
Our schools absolutely cannot excel without parent volunteers. Funding has been cut while expectations have sky-rocketed. Teachers are expected to fill so many roles in your children's lives. They need help. This is not day-care. This is not the place to drop your kids off at the door and pick them up at 6:00. If you have kids in school, you should find a way to be in that school. Teachers shouldn't have to beg for help from parents. You should be so freaking thankful that these people are educating the most precious gifts God has given you, that you're tripping over yourselves to get in there and help.
I especially think that's the case if your child is one of those high-maintenance kids. You know your child. If they're the student that the teacher is constantly having to deal with -- the one that takes all the attention away from the other kids, the least you can do is give some of that back by volunteering. Read with the other students. Read on parent reader day. Sharpen pencils. Whatever it takes.
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