I love Mondays! I know, I know. You’ve probably beaten people up for saying that before. I’m also a morning person, but since I don’t want to lose any readers, I’ll save that explanation for another time. Hear me out on this Monday thing though.
I love Mondays because I have the opportunity to volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class in the morning. I love it, and it is one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had. There are a ton of reasons that I do this, and there are many reasons that I enjoy it. I will try to pass that information along to you. Hopefully, after reading this, you will be able to forgive me for enjoying Mondays.
The first reason that I volunteer is because it is needed. As incredible as my daughter’s teacher is (and she is amazing), she has 27 students and only 1 of her. That’s a ridiculous ratio, especially when you take into account that it’s kindergarten. These kids haven’t been through years of education that have at least put them in the same ball park when it comes to learning. There are such a wide range of abilities when it comes to reading, writing, and math in kindergarten. Some parents have given their kids a pretty healthy dose while others have concentrated on other things. How can you possibly manage such a huge variance with a ration of 27/1. That’s where myself and the other brave parents (my wife and mother included) come in. We try to take some of the work off the teacher’s plate. We can work with the kids that are just starting out while she helps the other kids to excel or vise versa. We can perform the manual labor aspects (do you have any idea how many things need to be cut and stapled in kindergarten) while she concentrates on teaching. We can read the kids a book while she prepares the next lesson. It helps to take away some of the sting from the ridiculous student/teacher ratio.
Another reason that I volunteer is because I think it’s important to have a man in the classroom every once in a while. I read a study once that had a hypothesis about why boys are falling behind girls when it comes to academics. The study felt that the lack of male teachers in early grades leads boys to think that school isn’t a place where men go. As a result they don’t take it as seriously and end up behind by the time that high school rolls around. I certainly don’t think that’s the only issue, but I do think it’s important to represent, and you can see that the students do respond to me. It may be because I have a deep voice that can make a sailor stop from across a noisy engine room, but the kids almost always give me their attention.
I also have aspirations to be a teacher once my Navy career ends. I still have quite a few years before I can retire, but I’m getting close enough that it’s at least worth thinking about. I’ve rolled quite a few ideas through my head, but the only one that has really stuck is teacher. I think it is probably the noblest profession out there, and one that I would really enjoy doing. If that’s the route I decide to take, I’m absolutely positive that’s what I’d do (for comparison, the only think I’ve wanted to do since I was 8 is be in the Navy). I’m not sure that I would want to concentrate on early elementary, but I’m not sure that I wouldn’t either. It’s nice to get that exposure.
Probably the biggest reason that I volunteer is because I can. I’m currently on shore duty which basically means that I’m not stationed on a ship. (If you have any additional questions about what that means, I’d be more than happy to answer them. There’s a link to ask me questions on the side.) I also have a job right now where I’m able to control my hours to a certain point. I have to work late a few other days during the week, but I’m able to get away on Monday mornings to help out. This is an chance that I will not have very often, so I’m going to take advantage of it. Once I get back on a ship, these opportunities will basically disappear. It’s just the nature of the beast. Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with my daughter and help out towards a good cause while I can. It means a late night here or there, but it’s completely worth it.
There are many reasons that I enjoy doing it. I love walking through the door and hearing, “Hi, Mr. Military Dad!” I love it when the boys come up to me and say, “I know that you’re a soldier.” To which I reply, “You know what, that’s close enough.” I love sitting in the front of the class and reading to a group of attentive kids that just like being there. I like to look across the classroom and see my daughter give me a secret glance over her shoulder to see if I’m watching. It’s always fun.
I think the thing I enjoy the most is seeing my daughter in her natural environment. When she isn’t just responding to parents and she is interacting with her peers, you start to get a little bit of a sense of what kind of person she will be. You get to see how she makes friends and how she responds to authority figures. You get to see if she is shy or outgoing, quiet or loud. There are so many things you can see just by watching her when she doesn’t realize it. I have to say at this point, that I am incredibly happy with what I see. She is polite and respectful. She seems to get along with everyone, and she has a few very good friends. There are no signs of her being a bully or elitist type. She helps others when she can and she accepts their help in return. While she isn’t necessarily shy, she isn’t constantly trying to be the center of attention either. I know that it is still very early, but I am incredibly happy with my daughter, and I think she’s going to turn into a fine young lady.
In closing, if the opportunity presents itself, maybe you should volunteer at your kids’ school. Trust me when I say that it is incredibly rewarding, and you get to see and experience a lot. Who knows, maybe you’ll come to enjoy Mondays too.