What Grown-Ups Do When the Kids Go Back to School

School started in our area either last week or today (except for the one slacker district that waits until after Labor Day). And the Facebook feeds have been popping. Yeah, yeah, there have certainly been plenty of those darling, awkward, first-day-of-school pics. But there have also been the posts like these (names and photos changed to protect the honest):

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Do the kids even realize their parents have a life while they dwell in the hallowed halls of learning? Probably not. And maybe that’s a good thing. After all, it might hurt their self esteem if they knew we weren’t sitting home pining for them (because they’re special, and our lives can’t possibly have meaning without them).

Like the second poster, I’m very happy to be able to plan kid-free fun with my parenting friends (not that their children aren’t darling). I’ve missed them over the summer.

But the other thing I look forward to when the kids go back to school is going back with them. Because I’m a classroom tutor.

A couple of years ago I talked to the elementary school principal about volunteering at the school. She told me:

“The best predictor of if a child will drop

And that stuck with me. Les and I both volunteer in a fourth-grade classroom with a teacher we love. We do whatever she needs us to do—help a child who was absent catch up on math homework, read with a child who is struggling to read at grade level, teach them how to do research for their Famous Pennsylvanians project. (Taylor Swift is a favorite. Notice it’s called “Famous,” not “Significant.”)

Schools can use you too. It’s harder for them to get volunteers now because of all the background checks. Not that most people wouldn’t pass them; they just don’t want to be bothered, or maybe they don’t have the money to pay for them.

What was your favorite school subject? Could you volunteer an hour a week to help kids with that? Just call your local school and offer your services.

I’ve always loved school supplies—binders and backpacks, pens and paper (thin-ruled only, thank you very much), “bouquets of sharpened pencils.” And by going back to school, I have an excuse to buy them (“Ooh, you’re out of glue sticks? I’ll take care of that.”) and to play with them (“Hey, let me see your cool eraser.”).

But most of all I get to, hopefully, help a child or two discover a subject they love, or recognize they can learn their multiplication tables, or unlock the world of reading. I get to encourage children to try again, to work through it, to recognize how bright they are, to move forward.

And that makes going back to school so worth it.

That I’m beginning to understand the current methods of multiplication are simply the icing on the cake.

If you volunteer at a local school, tell me about it in the comments. What do you do? And why?




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