My son started at a new school this year. I was very active in his previous school and was wondering where I’d jump in this year to parent volunteer. It’s not always easy for a parent to participate in their child’s education at the level they might want to with both parents working and the economic world what it is, so we all do the best we can. This post is NOT to say that parents who can’t participate for whatever reason are bad or that I’m better than someone else. We do what we need to keep our families warm, fed, and loved.
Instead, I consider myself very lucky. I am fortunate enough by being an Entrepreneur and working for myself that I can make the time to do as much as I want in the classroom. I get to work at something I love AND I get to make the time to be with my kids during the day. (Yes, I make up for it early in the morning or at night because the work still needs to get done and yes, I have daycare available).
Like most parents, I believe that parenting is full of life lessons and we learn them as we go. I still wish there was a parenting manual for my two children that told me exactly how to deal with each situation, for each child, considering each child is quite the opposite of the other! Man, that would make zillions of dollars! Back to my story…
So, my choice this year, aside from field trips and random events is to work in my son’s classroom every Tuesday afternoon. Tuesdays are a good day to break away for a bit in my industry. It has been an interesting experience these first two weeks watching 22 beautiful children make the transition to Big Kid school, with real desks, class lessons and homework.
Three of the things I learned from watching and helping:
1. Learning new things can be scary but good for you. I watched as the children pondered their math papers. Some struggled more than others. Frustration set in and help was needed. Some were on the verge of tears. This was when they turned to parent helpers or the teacher.
Adult Lesson: So many times we take on new things like learning to blog or use social media, or pay per click advertising. When it becomes hard or difficult to move forward because we’re stuck we shut down instead of asking for help. And yes, some of us may even cry over those technical blips when we cannot figure out what is next. Big lesson for us as adults – find a mastermind group, tribe, coach or friend you can call when you need support. This will help stop those tears of frustration!
2. There are times you need to eliminate distractions. The children have desks that face each other. I noticed a few kids the first week had these cardboard shelters. I wasn’t sure what they were and didn’t ask. When I noticed my son with one of these the second week, I asked him what it was and what it was for. His response, “It’s my office. This will help me pay more attention to what I am doing and not what everyone else is doing. It helps keep me focused today.
So, I figured out to help with focus the teacher would put up a cardboard “office” around any particular child that needed a little more help being less “social” for any given day. A positive way to reinforce focus versus reprimanding the child for being social.
Adult Lesson: We all have distractions. For the office worker it is that co-worker that comes by to say hello. For those that work at home it may be the laundry calling or some other house project. For all of us it may be the habit of constantly checking our email or answering our phone.
There are times when we need to eliminate the distractions and get the task at hand done. So, for an hour here and there: Close your office door, put a note on your cubicle that read, “Not to be disturbed”, wait until the end of the hour to check email and don’t answer the phone and let voice mail pick up. If it is urgent someone will find a way to get a hold of you. Some tasks we can do with distractions but many we need focus.
3. Make friends and have fun. A brand new school means a brand new set of friends. Old friends are not forgotten when new ones are made. My son still sees his old friends but has jumped right in to find and make new friends. Watching the children help each other with projects is awesome. Kids just naturally seem to want to play and help and that is a great way to learn new things – group work is great.
Adult Lesson: Keep making new friends. Social Media and the Internet helps and you can also do this locally through various organizations like Rotary International, Toastmasters, Your Church, etc. Find people interesting and they will find you interesting. This is part of why I have My Tribe. I love my Tribe friends. Not only do they help me get through the day when I need a pick me up but they help me in my business and vice versa. We realize we’re better together than alone.
Lastly, my own small observation: I know I am tired at the end of my 2.5 hour shift with the children and I know that they are totally exhausted because I see it on their little faces at 3pm. Learning is tough stuff and sometimes it makes a mind mushy. Remember to take a break now and again. That is what recess is all about during the day- time to let it all sink in while having more fun. Adults need breaks too!
On that note, I look forward to more lessons from first grade as the year progresses.
Have a great week!