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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: Never Underestimate the Power in an Hour

The past few weeks, I have gotten back to one of my first loves--volunteering in my children's classrooms. Mainly, I've been in Kindergarten.  I love those little smiling faces with hair falling in their eyes, shirts skewed a little and the girls with their 'bling'. I get to read with them...or listen as they read to me. And they are READING to me!!! 

Does anyone else remember being in kindergarten when the biggest thing you had to learn in the year was how to share the crayons? We're halfway through the year and they know the letters and the phonetic sounds and they string it all together to read words. Now I get to listen and ask questions to help them learn to comprehend what they are reading. Just saying words isn't going to cut it. What do the words put together mean?

It's fascinating. It's fun. It's also very interesting--in a good way. They have insights that you can't believe. They tell me about their mommy and daddy and pets. Maybe a little about their siblings. Sometimes they show me their new clothes or hairdo. And spending five minutes listening to them and letting them read and giving a high five for a job well done is all it takes to put a big smile on their faces. 

You can't buy this kind of joy in a store. And what makes me sad is how many other rooms that do not have a mommy or a daddy or a grandma or a friend of children to come and listen. I am taking one hour out of my week. It's only 60 minutes. I can only get to about 10 kids in that time slot. But what a return on my investment. I give an hour, some high fives, praise and smiles and I am rewarded with precious stories, gap-toothed grins and the knowledge that the next generation will have 20 students who love to read. All because I took an hour.

So here's my challenge to you--what's your excuse? Maybe kids isn't your thing. But the library needs help to shelve books. Soup kitchens need help serving meals. Food pantries need people to put cans on a shelf. Make a goal and find a way to give to someone or something else. Get out and see the bigger picture.

The photo below is from the Successories store. I bought this exact postcard when I was first married and too poor to afford the framed print. That card has stayed on my desk for over 20 years now. It gets lost in the shuffle and then reappears at different times. And every time I see it, I take a moment to think about my own priorities. And I'm thrilled to note that I think this world really and truly will be a better place because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I'm important in the lives of some children. Not just my three biological children, but for this year it's 20 kindergartners (and 21 fourth graders). 

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, 
the sort of house I live in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world 
may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

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