So it’s 2013 and my Americorps term is half over. I’ve been back from Winter break for two weeks now and school is in full swing. I’m bonding with my kids even more, making great strides with some of them, no gains with others and a breakthrough with one first grade boy. I’m starting to see now the difference that I am making in these children’s lives.
For the most part, the literacy benefit is secondary. Secondary to the enthusiasm, positivity and respect that I bring into their lives for 20 minutes a day. My kids know that when I pick them up from their rooms, I am going to ask them about their day, ask them how they are doing and feeling, and give them my complete and undivided attention for those precious minutes. They know that I am going to find something to praise them for, and that I will tell them that they are smart and capable.
And I think that that’s my true contribution to their lives – consistent and unwavering support. I am their cheerleader. I believe in them. In that realization, I feel like I’ve recommitted to my year of service and have reorganized my energies. I know now that I am making a difference. I can see it, every day. I have never before had a profession in which I have felt more upbeat and fulfilled than I have in my experience as an elementary literacy tutor.
A few gems from the kids this week:
The mind of Jack: A beloved 1st grade boy, who is of above-average intelligence, but with a definite behavioral issue, is learning about King Tut and mummies. He is fascinated with science and history and comes up to me at the end of the lesson/video on ancient Egypt and says, “I want to go to a museum this weekend. My friends like the mall and the zoo, but I like the museum because there’s more science. I don’t like the mall, except for Santa, and he’s human, so he’s part science, too.”
I took a kindergartener to the library to pick out a book after our tutoring session one day this week and she went right for “If You Give A Pig A Party.” She looked up at me and said, “I already read ‘If You Give A Pig A Pancake.'” Upon me asking what exactly happens when you give a pig a pancake, she says, “He gets all sticky!”
So then I decide we should play a game and make up our own “If you give a pig a …” book. “What would you like to give a pig,” I ask her? She says, “a toy”. Okay, let’s give a pig a toy. What happens next? And she says, with these huge eyes, “He plays with it and gets all wild.”
Another one of my kindergartners walked into the tutoring room with her pants tucked up and bunched around her knees. She points at them and volunteers, “Those were toasty,“ indicating her legs. “That’s why I put them (pants) up there.”