Friday, October 1, 2010

Thankful for volunteering Thursdays!

Early last week Devin brought home a schedule for the parents who signed up to volunteer in their Kindergarten classroom.  I was very excited to see this.  Back when Hunter was this age, I was at his school two days a week.  I helped in the lunch room and library, but never in Hunter's classroom.  His teacher at the time, one who has finally retired, didn't want parent help.  She had been teaching that age group for over twenty years.  We actually thought at the time of Hunter's IEP meeting that her experience would be beneficial when actually she was stubbornly stuck in her ways.

Devin's teacher, Mrs. M, is a newlywed who passed out a parent volunteer sign up sheet within seconds of introducing herself.  She not only appreciates an extra set of hands for this age group, but she understands the excitement and love shown by the kids when parents suddenly appear at their classroom door.  Both times now Devin has been surprised when I show up, even though I tell him that I'll see him in his classroom at 2:00!

I left my house yesterday, really looking foward to being smothered by five year old bodies, smiles and questions.  They didn't disappoint!  When I arrived at the classroom with my crooked yellow Visitor's badge clipped to my shirt, the children were in two lines, one for boys and one for girls, playing a numbers game.  Devin saw me and his face lit up and he said, Mom, you're here!  I held out my hand to stop his sprint toward me and he sat back down in his line.

I sat down in one of the few adult chairs in the room and watched as a boy with a miniature green fly swatter and a girl with a red one of her own looked at their teacher and waited for her to say a number.  When she did, they looked to the dry erase board and, wobbling unsteady while keeping their toes on a masking tape line, they leaned left and right, back and forth, each false smacking at the numbers until one of the finally spotted the number.  Then their teacher would announce a point for whatever team and mark it on a small board in her lap.  The team that scored would throw their arms high, pumping them up and down without a sound in a silent cheer.  It was the cutest thing!  Then the boy and girl who had played that round turned to their classmates, passed the fly swatters to the next in line, then walked to the end of the line and sat down.  Before the game was over, they were asked to find numbers that come after what they heard and then what came before and they also mixed up their lines so it wasn't just boys against girls but red versus green.

All through his game, Devin would turn my way and give me that great big grin of his.  How could anything go wrong with that face in my life?  When he was told to go back to his seat, he took the long way around and with arms outstretched like a plane and taking off just as fast, he ran to me and I gave him the hug he was looking for.  I took my place at the green table and read a short and simple, copy machined book to the four interested faces looking at me.  The book was full of beginner words called Sight Words.  I read the book first, pointing at each word with my finger and they copied.  Then we read it together, still pointing with our fingers.  Simple sentences like, I am a little zebra and I am a little lion, etc.  Then I'd choose one of the kids to read the words while using their fingers, making sure the other kids follow along and then when they all had a chance to read, we got to color the books!  While they colored, I'd ask them to spell a sight word or ask how many letters a sight word had.  While at the same time the other kids were at other tables of different colors, playing games or reading their own sight words with Mrs. M.

Last Thursday when this was done, I helped out Mrs. M by taking the children's work down from the hallways and I cut some paper with the biggest paper cutter I've ever seen.  This week, though, she didn't have anything for me to do, so I was able to see Devin and his classmates sing a song about the five senses and draw two people talking since talking is something we do with our mouths.  It was at this point that the Devin I know started coming out.  He was going crazy with his oversized pencil, making it do all kinds of fight moves on his table instead of working in his five senses book.   Suddenly, his pencil went flying off to the side and softly clacked along the floor.  Instead of standing up to retrieve it, Devin jumped down and slid on his belly a good three feet to snatch it up.  He then stood back up, apologized for dropping his pencil, and got to work on his drawing.  I think Kindergarten teachers see just about everything, but they choose which behaviors to curb and what Devin did wasn't all that loud or obnoxious, it actually looked natural and how he just popped back up and apologized for loosing his pencil was just priceless!

In the picture above he is sitting with his classmates wihle five of his friends were given awards for having earned all green circles on their behavior charts for the month of September.  You might remember me writing about Devin scoring a yellow (green, yellow, red and bad, bad blue!) on his second day of school.  His friends were called up and got to choose something from a cardboard treasure box.  One boy picked play dough, another a small Cars frisbees, a girl a Cat in the Hat book bag.  Since that second day, Devin has brought home nothing but green which earns him some computer game playing time when he gets home.  In regards to his school work, he's earned many stars and stickers but also more than a couple requests to be a bit neater.  Tim and I are hoping that with more practice, there's hope he'll have better penmanship than either of us!
Devin also gets excited when I come on Thursdays because it means that he's a car rider.  Although he does love to ride the bus, on Thursdays, he doesn't have to wait for the bus call because he can leave right with me at the end of the day.  On this Thursday, he told me hi s eyes couldn't see.  So I offered him some help to make it to the van without that sense.  Once there he used his sense of touch to feel the open van door and climb into his seat and buckle his seat belt.  He contiuned to pretend until he heard the DVD player start, but he quickly clenched his eyes closed again when he caught me looking at him.

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