“Going Back to First Grade,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 71–72
Last year I went back to first grade when I volunteered to help in my son’s classroom. While such service may be of great help to teachers, students, and the wider community, the rewards of spending a few hours in your child’s classroom can also be important to you.
You’ll be learning about your own child as well as picking up new skills for teaching your children at home.
You can observe your child in the school environment. You may see a different child than the one you see at home, and this added insight may help you be a better parent.
You can get to know the teacher. It’s easier to become acquainted when you see a teacher every week instead of twice a year at parent-teacher conferences. Being comfortable with your child’s teacher will help you discuss any problems or concerns that arise during the school year.
You’ll know what is being taught at school. This will help you to enrich teaching at home and to focus more effectively on subjects your child may be having trouble with. It’s good to see firsthand what is happening at school, especially if you have concerns about the curriculum.
You become acquainted with your child’s classmates. This gives you some perspective in arranging playtimes or helping your child with an uncomfortable social adjustment.
If you would like to be a volunteer, don’t wait for an invitation from the teacher. Go ahead and offer your help. Teachers are usually thrilled to have an extra set of hands in the classroom.
You may also have unique talents and skills to offer. If you love art, volunteer to teach art appreciation classes or to give instruction in watercolor painting. If you are a would-be scientist, dust off your chemistry set and run experiments with the class.
By volunteering at your child’s school, you can provide a worthwhile service and learn along with your child.—Lisa Ray Turner, Littleton, Colorado