All I knew about the activity was that we were going to be making insects. She asked me to bring scissors, seeds for eyes and some twigs. For what, I didn’t know. The Kids and I got some tree branches from the backyard, ate a watermelon for the seeds and I packed a pair of adult scissors.
When I arrived, the teacher had put the kids in tables according to who had parents and who didn’t. About 8 kids arrived alone and an additional 12 did not come to school at all*. Max and Artemis sat at a table with Victor (their good friend, I know him to see him) and his sister who was probably 12 years old.
Once I received the official translation, it turned out that we were supposed to make a bunch of different insects using the tools that we had brought.
Clearly Ed should have come instead because I am no McGyver. Fortunately, there was paper, Popsicle sticks, glue, paint, playdoh** and other items in the school room that we could use. Even so, I wasn’t really sure what to do. While I like to think that I’m creative and can knit a mean scarf, the creations that the other
parents kids were making were totally out of my league.
It was at that moment that I realized that I should probably go back to school. And, that,
I’ve Learned a Lot about Helping in the Classroom.
1. 5-Year Olds know More about Insects than I do. I know that they have wings and such (did you know that some of them have 2 sets!?) and antennas and a bunch of legs. I mean, I’d know one to see one but, having to describe one isn’t so easy. Make me have to do it in another language and I’m totally out of my depth.
2. The Other Adults know less than I do. I was trying to translate the names of some of the insects (I do know a bunch) but even with pictures, the parents couldn’t tell me what they were called.
3. **Playdoh is really Paper Pulp. You can buy playdoh here, however, the kids use a grey paper pulp mixture (with flour and glue). When they’re done creating, they paint it. Works well enough.
4. It is possible to answer 5,612 questions in an hour and a half. 5,611 of which were related to my name, the name of The Kids and the name of their father. The only other one was asking if they were twins.
5. Parents do most (if not all) of the work. I did not personally do all the work, however many of the other kids creations were entirely completed by the Parents. The child didn’t even lift a paint brush.
6. Mexican paint comes out of clothes. Paint is not allowed in our house. At all. It’s not my fault exactly. You see, when The Kids go to Playgroup (in Canada), whenever they paint, the paint will not come out (even though the coordinator puts soap in it). So, for the sake of our clothes, we don’t do it unless we’re outside and naked (note that this may have happened on several occasions…). How do I know that Mexican paint comes out? Well because Max and I got covered in it.
7. The Kids don’t act much differently when their Parents are present. Max and Artemis (and probably most of the kids) behaved exactly as I thought they would. They didn’t hang all over me and were up and down checking out other peoples creations and just generally being five.
8. Their teacher is a saint. How she manages to teach 34 kids anything and without losing any, I don’t know. I have a hard enough time with two. I do know that every single day when I pick up The Kids for school, she has a smile on her face. And, I’ve never heard her raise her voice in anger. Note that I have heard her yell, in fact, she needs to yell most of the time just to be heard.
All in all, it was a very positive experience for me and The Kids and I hope to have the chance to do it again soon.