I recently started volunteering at an elementary school one day a week helping first graders with reading and writing. My job is to invite one student at a time to a back table where we read a book together, or I help them with a worksheet.
Three days after my first visit, I came down with a bad summer cold and had to miss the second week. (This happened after saying to myself, “I never get sick.”) So, I stocked up on vitamin C, echinacea and zinc, and I’m making a renewed effort in my goal to get more sleep.
Yesterday, I helped the first graders write stories using the prompts, Who, What, Where, When, and Why with the theme of what they like to do for fun. One student said she liked to go to “Jungle Rabbits.” I had to smile, because I remembered my daughter, many years ago calling the water slide park “Jungle Rabbits” when it’s official name is Jungle Rapids. The word, rapids, makes no sense to first graders, but rabbits do. It doesn’t matter that there are no rabbits there. When I said, “I think it’s called, Jungle Rapids, she insisted it was Jungle Rabbits, so I joined the journey and helped her spell rabbits. The next student who said he liked to go to Jungle Rabbits, got no argument from me. Jungle Rabbits it is!
But my favorite experience, so far, was when it was almost time for recess. Two boys in the back of the room started getting on each other’s nerves. I re-directed them to their work and wondered it I was going to need to get the busy teacher’s attention. A third boy came to one of them with a letter he had written. It said simply, “I love you,” followed by the author’s name. Then the letter writer went back to his desk and wrote another letter, and brought it to the other boy. It said the same thing. “I love you.”
“Isn’t that nice?” I said.
The restless boys didn’t say anything. They didn’t quite know what to make of the letters. But they were distracted from their irritations and settled down long enough to make it to recess without any problems. There’s just something about a hand-printed letter.
I think I’m going to like first grade a lot better this time around.
(The images are from Pixabay)