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)
August 31, 2017 at 5:34 pm
Maybe I’ll try that sometime. Sounds easier than my usual methods…
August 31, 2017 at 5:49 pm
You mean a hand printed letter?
August 31, 2017 at 6:07 pm
I mean writing a note that says “I love you” the next time I’m involved in conflict.
August 31, 2017 at 7:21 pm
Yes, let’s! And then, for the really hard cases, there’s the one that goes, “God loves you, and I’m trying.” But I think my first grader got it right.
September 1, 2017 at 2:22 am
Such a great read! I really enjoyed reading this blog.
September 1, 2017 at 12:12 pm
Thank you! Cheers!
September 1, 2017 at 11:03 am
This sounds so lovely … Kids really do connect with the simple things that make sense and make the best out of them 🙂
September 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm
🙂 It’s especially great to spend a couple hours a week with them. I’m glad you enjoyed it and understand. 🙂
September 4, 2017 at 8:37 am
What a rewarding and important role you have volunteered for JoAnna.. and so loved that story of the little boy writing those three important words.. It certainly defused the situation.. Love that.. 🙂
September 4, 2017 at 12:14 pm
It has certainly lifted my spirit! 🙂
September 6, 2017 at 10:49 am
Sounds a wonderful way to volunteer and help give back.. xxx
September 6, 2017 at 11:15 pm
September 4, 2017 at 4:35 pm
Thank you for sharing JoAnna, children do have their own way of defusing situations. Your article took me back a few years when I used to volunteer in schools. The most rewarding volunteering I ever tried.
September 4, 2017 at 6:37 pm
I bet! Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
February 20, 2018 at 11:15 pm
I like that you are helping a busy teacher and also becoming involved in their learning. First grade is a fun group of children, JoAnna! 💞
February 21, 2018 at 5:28 pm
I’m really enjoying it. Finally learned all their names. 🙂