Feedback Loop

From November 2009

Even with the Internet, and a community of supporters that i can access on the phone, online and in-person, sometimes parenting can be a bit of an isolating job. I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer in Henry's classroom once a week for the past few months and it's been such a rewarding experience. Seeing Henry outside of his family environment is a joy-- and allows me to clearly see his strengths without having to deal with the "hands-on" parenting that makes you feel like you're in the trenches when you're at home.

I also get a chance to meet all of Henry's classmates, learn their names and see how Henry interacts with them. I recently came across this quote and nodded my head vigorously; "If you ask preschoolers, "What did you do at school today?" they will typically say, "Nothing." Honestly, i was happy to read this as some kids i know just gush the goings-on of their day. But not Henry. For as long as he's been talking, when you ask him what he did at school- or even try to be creative and ask him the funniest or silliest thing that happened he seems to delight in telling you a) nothing happened or b) he just started at the wall all day.

The book went on to say: "But if they get other cues-- you start to sing one of the songs or they see or smell something similar-- you can get an amazingly detailed rendition of the morning's activities."

Being in Henry's classroom gives me the details to be able to ask questions that he'll actually answer, or to weave his classmates names into our conversation. I've considered it laying the groundwork, and in fact it has allowed him to open up and share more with me-- almost as if because he doesn't have to educate me from scratch it's something he'll consider doing.

Henry seems to love having me in the classroom as well-- asking throughout the week if it's the day i come to help at his school. He's really great about honoring the conversation we had the first week in which i explained that i'm still his Mom, but when i'm in the classroom i'm there to help Ms. Laura and all the other boys and girls. He gives me an enormous hug when i'm ready to leave, and interacts with the activities i lead-- but is just as comfortable picking other centers.

But the place i started this post was to say that i've received some hugely valuable positive feedback from Ms. Laura about my skills with the kids. I'm not sure if i can explain how those comments helped shore me up. The kids have both been in some rough patches for awhile and i haven't always felt like i'm doing a great job mothering them. My patience and problem solving skills only go so far. So, being in a classroom with 20 kids and feeling like i know how to help manage the classroom and interact in very positive ways with the kids has been wonderful.

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