Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kids and Volunteer Work

On Wednesday's I volunteer at my boy's elementary school as part of their reading program. There are many kids at the school where English is not their first language, and it is not spoken at home. This means, that they will have a harder time on their EOG's (the standardized test they take in the spring) so the school has volunteers come in and help them with their reading to prepare them. Really, most of the kids know how to read...this program start with 3rd is the comprehension of what they are reading that they have difficulty with.

The boy that I work with is the same age as Ethan, in 4th grade and he can read almost every word in every story in the booklet given to us. But he has no idea what some of the words mean. That is a problem when the questions ask what is meant when the writer says "xyz". I take the word by word approach. As we are reading, I can pretty much tell what words he is not familiar with and I will stop him at the end of the paragraph and go back and ask him if he knows what that word means. Sometimes I am surprised at the words he does not know, but that is what I am there for...I am just glad I can help him.

Last week, I came to his classroom to get him and he was not there. His teacher said it was the first time he had been absent since being at the school...keep in mind, he is in 4th grade! So, I asked him today if he had been sick last week. He said no, then hesitated. I didn't push, it was none of my business why he was out. Really, I was just making small talk until we got to the library. Then he said, "I was out because my dad went to jail and I had to take care of my mom. The last time I was out was when my mom had a baby."

What do you say to that? I just said I was sorry he had to go through that and that it must be tough for him. He responded, "Yeah, but he gets out Friday."

The things kids have to go through...
What would you have said? Or would have said anything?


  1. There really isn't much you can say except you are glad he is back. And that you really enjoy seeing him.

  2. My daughter has a friend in that situation. I always feel awkward with our conversations. However, I have discovered that all she really wants is someone to listen to her and not judge. I can't imagine what is going on with some of these children as they are trying to get through life.

  3. That is difficult to answer in the situation you were in. I agree with the above statement and tell him you are glad he is back. I may have mentioned it to the teacher so she could keep an eye out on him in case there were deeper issues and problems such as abuse.

    1. Later on, I did email the volunteer coordinator who works with the social worker at the school and informed her of what he told me. They probably already know because they work very closely with the Spanish interpreter doing homechecks and helping with whatever they need. But I didn't want to take a chance, you know?!!