Walking to the shops today I bumped into Clara and her mum from St.W’s primary school (where I volunteer). Clara was smiling from ear to ear as soon as we spotted each other… I said hi to both, and told Clara I would be going on the school trip to a nature reserve with her class this week! Clara couldn’t stop beaming at me. You’re name is J! she said. Yes, I said. Then she ran straight towards me and gave me an almighty hug!! You are the best teacher!! she said. I’ve said it before, I know….but volunteering in a primary school is a great way to feel great! I’m not a teacher of course…I just read with the year 2s (aged 6/7 years old) for about 5 minutes each every week….but just look at the payback.
I had mentioned to my niece, B (currently a Teaching Assistant) that the children in my class seem uncommonly pleased to come and read with me. Ah….she said. Do you talk to them?…er…yes, I said. I ask them how they are and if there are doing anything exciting in class or about the book they are reading…which means they may ending up telling me great tales about what they did, or about Florence Nightingale (they know a heck of a lot about Florence Nightingale!!) or about their nasty older brother, or the Chilean football team they support. Well, she said..you see, the curriculum is so packed and rigid that the teachers are doing all they can to teach and get through it…there is no time for much talk. And at home, parents are distracted with other kids, their mobile phones, or life in general. So, many of them don’t get a chance to talk to any adults.
For me, that’s just too sad. These kids really want to talk. Of course, the upside of the fact they don’t get to, is that I get lovely ‘thank you’ messages… and occasional hugs….
If you have some spare time – go volunteer in a primary school. They will do a background check, and you will have a fun and rewarding time helping the kids.