Tuesday, 13 March 2018

I Learned From You - Parenting Lessons As A Volunteer For A School Trip

Last week I volunteered for an outdoor class trip with the kids.  One of the best things about being freelance is flexibility of time.  With a couple of late night writing shifts I was able to take on a day supervising a group of plucky six and seven year olds through outdoor nature adventures.  Here's what I learned.

10 Lessons I Learned While Supervising A School Trip

A real double rainbow I captured this past fall

1. Volunteer while they are young, but old enough to remember you put up your hand to help
Both minions were literally fighting over whose classroom I'd be volunteering for, the choice was ultimately up to the teachers, not the winner of an epic battle.  Just the same it felt great for them to really want me there and to proudly introduce me as their mom.

2. Be the parent with the extra pair of gloves, spare pair of pants, hat, tissues, & hand sanitizer
Someone is likely to need it, and it might even be your own kid.

3. Always make sure the porta potty door shuts and locks
Otherwise some random kid will whip open the door and you'll both be screaming as you struggle to shut the door, hypothetically speaking, of course!

4. You will get a wanderer in your groupOr a kid who doesn't want to wear their coat and gets cold, or insists on being first at everything. It may be your kid, it may be someone elses.  How you choose to deal with them is up to you.  I nagged my wanderer until they just submitted to volunteering to hold my hand (likely so they didn't have to listen to me nag them anymore).

5. Don't be afraid to improvise
The kids in my group had the most fun when they got to roll down a hill during our "free time" and play a bucket toss game where another parent and I suggested they toss their mittens when there were no beanbags available.

Kids can find so much fun in something as simple as being allowed to sit in a funky chair, seriously!

6. Pack a big lunch that can handle travel
The itinerary of our trip had the kids eating over an hour later than usual.  This meant they were ravenous by the time we could eat.  It also meant that Jack ate all of his lunch and part of mine and Molly's so it was good to have some extra.

7. Stay off your phone if you can
There were no rules for parents and cell phones, and I get that sometimes work is calling, but I was a little taken aback at how often some parents were checking out social media and then panicking when the "wanderer" of their group is hiding out.

8. Take only photos, leave only footprints
Set this example for the kids on respecting nature.

9. If your kid needs (or wants) something, don't be afraid to ask - the worst the teacher will say is no!
I didn't get to volunteer for Jack's class, but since he was also on the trip his teacher made sure he was able to sit with me at lunch, join my group for our last block of free time, and sit with me (and fall asleep in my lap) on the bus ride home.

10. Have Fun!
This time is fleeting..Enjoy the chaos...and how amazing your kids are.  Seeing my kids interact with other kids and how different they are from their classmates made me appreciate them even more.  Before we know it they'll be tweens and teens pushing towards independence.

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