A father in his mid-thirties decided to show up to his daughter’s class and volunteer. He helped out with a few things, but mostly he was able to see what a normal class was like for the children. We have all been through kindergarten, but what do you really remember about it? Not many details, I would expect. Seeing the way the teachers handled each challenge through the eyes of an adult is definitely something new. He shared what he saw with the internet, and many people (especially other elementary school teachers) found it delightful!
My daughter’s school participates in a program called WATCH D.O.G.S, which encourages dads to volunteer one day a year in their kid’s school. Part of it is to bond with your kid and see what their day is like, the other part is to be a positive male role model for other students who don’t have a lot of that in their lives, especially in elementary schools where 99% of the staff are typically female.
These are my top ten thoughts and observations:
1. The day started with a fire drill. Followed by a “lock down drill,” which we didn’t have when I was in school. All four classes piled into a single classroom and had to be absolutely quiet and still while the lights were off and the doors were locked. Scary to think about, but necessary in today’s world.
2. The “star student of the week” brought a tablet for show and tell. Everyone got excited. He pulled out what looked to be one of those cheap LeapFrog devices. Kids started peppering him with questions…”can you play Angry Birds or Crossy Road?” “No.” “Can you FaceTime?” “No.” I felt bad for him….he was excited to show off his favorite toy and immediately got torn down by the iPad posse.
3. I spent most of my classroom time playing Chutes and Ladders with rotations of kids. They also had a card game called Line Up that’s sort of like solitaire. My educational contribution was telling them “those upside down hearts are called spades….those clovers are called clubs. Tell your mommy you want to go Vegas for spring break.”
4. 10:45 AM — time to force feed myself lunch. I rarely finish my coffee before 11, much less have lunch. Made the rest of the day seem extra long. Also the kid sitting next to us didn’t have a spoon for his pudding and was TERRIFIED to ask for one. SEINFELD REFERENCE #1: It was like asking The Soup Nazi for bread. YOU DON’T HAVE A SPOON? NO PUDDING FOR YOU. NEXT!!!
5. I’m so glad I have girls. Boys would randomly do karate chops, push each other and try to stir up trouble. Also about half of them were wearing Star Wars shirts. I asked a couple what their favorite Star Wars movie is and they all answered that they’re “not allowed to see the movies but watch the cartoons.” Interesting. I told them that when they’re older to skip the prequels. And not to get too attached to Han Solo.
6. Was fascinating to see the gender differences in action. The teacher divided them up to turn geometric shapes into animals. The girls worked together, sharing ideas and encouragement. The boys turned into cavemen, arguing and fighting, grunting and growling.
7. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld (reference #2) recess was like “running a blender without a top.” Or a prison break. Pick your metaphor. One of the boys ripped my sunglasses off and refused to give them back. 33 years old and I’m still getting bullied. I was going to tell him the truth about Santa, Tooth Fairy and Darth Vader if he didn’t give them back. #revenge
8. Post-recess, an urgent meeting was called for the entire grade. Apparently several of our “kindergarten friends” were picking up trash on the playground and putting it in their mouths. This was a deadly serious meeting, in which I had to bite my lip. Leave it to a teacher to turn a negative into a positive — she’s bringing work gloves and trash bags. “If you want to pick up trash, you can help clean up your playground instead of making your mouth dirty.” Also, hide and seek and tag have been banned until further notice because “several of our friends have been pushed and gotten hurt.” #Yolo
9. I participated in most of PE. Jumping jacks, squats, etc. Gym teacher said I was one of the few dads who’s been able to touch their toes. #Winning. I did, however, have to sit out yoga. Hard to do downward dog and candle pose in jeans.
10. Teachers are really good actors. They run their classrooms like drill sergeants. I don’t want to say mean…but definitely very strict. And they have to be to keep control. But then they would turn to me to chat and would be super sweet. It was a switch they could flip on and off. Never crossed my mind that teachers are playing characters. And after spending a day in their shoes, I have the utmost respect for who anyone who dedicates their lives to molding young minds….especially kindergartners!
Then we came home. And I immediately took a nap.
If you have a chance to do something like this with your children, do it! The memories will be something to cherish, and you may discover a new “trick” to use at home! Many parents have started sharing tips with each other about things they learned at their child’s class, such as how one teacher got the kids to pick up after themselves or how to initiate a hassle-free nap time.