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The Cool of Volunteering at School

The school bell rings. The children will be entering the classroom in seconds.

I’m in my daughter’s Grade 2 classroom, about to be in the spotlight. I flip another round of pancakes on my griddle while my stomach does a flop. My forehead breaks out in a nervous sweat. I wish I wore sandals instead of runners. But it’s too late to consider cooler wardrobe choices now.

The children file into the classroom and instantly notice the sight of a guest—me. I breathe, wipe my brow and then smile. I’ve got this. Children are a forgiving audience and my daughter is always telling me it is okay to learn from our mistakes.

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I love participating in PJ Day as much as the children do. I am rocking my rubber ducky PJ pants. It’s awesome that my youngest daughter still loves to dress up in matching outfits with me. Twinning as she calls it. She also enjoys twinning with her friends.

One child approaches me. She is wearing an adorable unicorn onesie. She tells me about her dad’s pancakes that he makes every weekend. Another child asks whose mom I am. My own daughter comes and hugs me. Many more children come over to view the extra toppings of whip cream, strawberries, and chocolate chips that are laid out on the table at the front of the classroom.

I get a chance to eat some pancakes with my daughter, but not before tripping the breaker by plugging in a second griddle. Remind myself that children are a forgiving audience and so is the teacher as I apologize for blowing the breaker. I move to the hall to use a different outlet to finish cooking the last of the pancake batter. Thankfully, it was only one outlet and not power for the whole class. As I’m cleaning up, children are still chatting to me while they’re supposed to be practicing their spelling. I say goodbye to my daughter’s teacher and the whole class thanks me at the same time. By this point, I’m comfortable and far less nervous.

This year I also attended my son’s Maritime Museum field trip where I helped with fun activities to learn about supply and demand and trading. I was nervous during my role for this field trip as well because I was the checker of various activities that the children completed on cards to earn pelts for trading at the trading post. It was also exciting because I managed to sit by my fellow mom friend on the bus. We coordinated our outfits as I would have back in the day with my friends.

I also went on a field trip with my son’s class to the Royal BC Museum, and the children in my group started running up the escalator the wrong way. It was challenging to get them to stop but was overall a fun day of learning for all of us. I found ways to assess the personalities in my group and who needed extra jobs to keep busy and not get distracted. It was a day of counting and ensuring that we all stayed together. My son became quite upset at one point because I was helping another student and he couldn’t’ see me. I definitely could not be a teacher; I respect teachers for their incredible workand I’ll stick to volunteering.

At the end of my volunteering days, I was relieved that we didn’t lose anyone and my nervousness was outweighed by the thrill of being back at school. The feeling took me back to my school performance days. I had the role of Marilla in Anne of Green Gables. After performing, I felt exhilarated and like I could accomplish anything. I feel the same way after volunteering at the school. I had a forgiving audience back in my Drama class days too. I’m looking forward to volunteering again this school year. I encourage you to take a day off work and spend a few hours with your child’s class—especially while your child still thinks it’s cool to have you at school.

Serena Beck
Serena Beck
Serena Beck works full-time as a Technical Writer. She loves to write, travel, and swim at the beach with family and friends.