As a stay at home Dad, I now have more time to volunteer at my sons school. I was a little worried at first that I would not know what to do, but apparently being a parent was all the training I needed.
I have had a blast, the kids are funny (like an episode of Kids Say the Darndest Things), I have gotten a chance to see how kids strengths manifest themselves, and I now understand the difficulty for teachers to address each students needs.
As a parent I want my kid to do awesome, we all do. Sometimes I didn't really get it when a teacher explained my child was having difficulty with an area.
I used to be frustrated and wish school did more. Why is there so much homework for a Kindergarten kid? Aren't they supposed to teach this at school? Why am I doing this? I have a job.
When I was working I was swamped with thoughts about work. Deliverables, new features to design, and a steady stream of emails. Just trying to disconnect from the constant communication of a team working in timezones from Seattle to the Ukraine was difficult. There were problems, checkins, quick fixes, reviews, and more, required at all hours of the day.
Now I see, after being in the classroom that it is a fine balancing act for a teacher to try to get the material across to a wide variety of skill levels. It really does take that extra effort from us parents to help our kids over the rough patches.
I have seen a wide variety in skill level with Mathmatics (addition, number recognition, subtraction), Creative Writing (understanding of certain, possible, impossible), and just plan attention span. Some of these kids get a topic and are whizzes. The same kids are not always the whizzes for each topic.
This is why my son has needed help. He is good in some areas but really struggling in others. This is the main reason I left work for a few months. To help out my kids in the areas they are struggling.
The volunteering has been enlightening and as a parent I understand a little better how my role at home can help my child. I know I wish I had done this earlier.
If I could make a suggestion to past me it would be to look at my schedule for the next month, and then consider taking one or two days to work from home so I could volunteer for as little as an hour. I do just a 45 minute session, twice a week, with the kids helping them one on one or in groups of two to work on an individual skill.
I know work would still be there once my hour was up.
If you are left struggling to understand what schools do today and why you need to help so much, maybe you might want to try volunteering as well. It really has opened my eyes.