a parent volunteering at a child's school as the children play


I Miss Volunteering at My Kids’ School

Oct 12, 2021

“Tell me what the library looks like,” I say, while laying in bed with my second grader. She describes a room filled with rows and rows of books, and I close my eyes and try to visualize a place I’ve never been.

My children started attending a new school during the pandemic. We moved in the summer of 2020, and they’ve just entered their second year there — but I have never once stepped foot inside.

"Pre-pandemic I was an active participant at my kids' school."

I have no idea what their classroom looks like, whether their desk is messy or clean, what the artwork on the walls looks like or where they put their coats and shoes. When I’m called to pick them up because they’re sick, I wait outside for them, and greet them six feet away from the school’s front doors.

A big yellow sign notifies me that parents are not allowed inside the school, and I wonder when that sign will come down.

Your parent-teacher meetings may have gone virtual, but in this piece from the archives one mom outlines why it's important to check-in with instructors and what to keep in mind.

When my third and youngest child started kindergarten this year, I grieved the fact that we wouldn’t be on this journey together. In the past I was able to tour the classroom with my kids, and meet their teachers and introduce myself. I was able to see their smile, and they could see mine. I was also able to extend a helping hand, whether it was making play dough for the class, or coming in to help on days when they needed parent volunteers.

Pre-pandemic I was an active participant at my kids' school. Teachers knew my first name, as did the principal and the school secretary.

"In the past I was able to tour the classroom with my kids, and meet their teachers and introduce myself."

I volunteered in the breakfast club program, coming in to deliver food to classes, or chop up dozens of peppers for the entire school. I helped kindergarten students carve pumpkins and I talked to first graders about writing. I brought my mother-in-law in and she sang and played the guitar while a gaggle of students bounced up and down, their little voices singing nursery rhymes off-key. On birthdays, I delivered cupcakes and sang happy birthday to my child, surrounded by their friends and teachers.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in my children’s school. Pre-pandemic I was a stay-at-home mom, and now I work full-time and have limited free time. Even though my volunteer time may be limited, I wish I had the opportunity to sit with my kids in their classes. To watch and observe how they interact with their friends, and support their teachers however I can.

Brianna spent her first eight years of motherhood at home, but now that she's found a career outside parenting, she feels like she's unlocked different parts of herself.

Not having the opportunity to volunteer inside my kids’ classrooms is something I grieve often.

As the months extend to years, I wonder when I’ll ever be able to step foot inside of their school. My eldest daughter is in fourth grade, and I’ve not been able to support her at school the way I’d like since she was in second grade. I miss being there for them during their school years, and I wonder when the opportunity to be a parent volunteer will return.

All I know is that as soon as that yellow sign is removed, and the school’s doors are open again — I’ll be first in line to hand out apple slices or sing silly songs. I just hope my kids aren’t too old by then.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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