TLDR – Michelle volunteered at the kid’s school every chance she could the past year.
The Opportunity to volunteer
This past school year was a time for big changes to the family. We started a new school and it was a great opportunity for me to really try putting myself out there. If anyone knows me well, you know I’m an introvert and making conversation is a difficult, and uncomfortable, task. However, I have decided to try and be more involved in my children’s lives by invading their school and spying on them….or the less creepy way of wording it “volunteering”.
Kevin’s new job allows him the flexibility to work for home a few days a week and he can keep an eye on Roxi as well; this gave me the chance to volunteer at a few activities. I started late in the game due to our month sabbatical from the country and what have you, but starting around February I decided to jump in the game where I was able.
Volunteering – and walking
The first task was Intercultural Day, where I talked to all ten classes about growing up in the States. Public speaking at its finest, but the kids were great. The younger kids wanted to know what animals we had in the States, while the older kids had the more intriguing questions; “do you have big shopping centers?” and “Why is your president so mean?” (I just smiled and skipped that one). All in all, that was a fun experience and I really enjoyed all the insightful questions and intrigue from the kids.
My second task was an all-school walk. This happens during Fitness Week at school which is a push to encourage the kids to get outside and play. The walk happened at the end of the week, and as the title suggests, it is the entire school going for a walk around the neighborhood. I volunteered to walk with Mila’s class, the Sr. Infants (6-7 yr olds). My job was to make sure they stayed together and didn’t get hit by any cars. The whole thing took about an hour and covered a little over a mile. It was nice to talk with Mila and her friends, as well as get to know Mila’s teacher a little more.
Each year at the end of the school year, every class goes on a “class trip” or field trip as we call them. I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for each of the kids. I do have to start by saying Ireland does not have the yellow and black school buses of America; they charter buses so there are seatbelts and comfy leather seats. These kids travel in style. The buses reminded me of my days going on Choir Tour.
Mila and Khaleesi both went to Glenroe Farms, not at the same time. I first went with Mila’s class and then again a few weeks later with Khaleesi’s class. The trip starts with a guided tour and introduction to all the animals, which you can pet and feed if they are near the fence. The farm has a cow and calf, donkeys, horses, chickens, turkeys, birds, pigs, piglets, goats, deer, and rabbits. After the tour, the guide takes the kids into a small barn where they can sit down and hold a rabbit and guinea pig. After that, the kids are free to explore the farm, have lunch, and then play on the playground.
Both classes had a great time and loved the playground the most. While the kids played at the toys, we adults had time to sit and chat and sip coffee. It was a great experience; I had a better opportunity to get to know a few other moms as well as the teachers and the teacher helpers.
Maddex’s class went to Greenan Maze. They had farm animals, an old farmhouse (1600s, a fairy trail, and of course, a giant hedge maze. We split into groups and were taken on a guided tour of the entire farm. First, we saw some animals, peacocks, goats, pigs, cows, chickens, sheep, and horses. Then we walked the fairy trail to find all the fairy doors and learn different types of trees. After a lunch break, we played some games and took on the maze. It was really hard, so hard no one in my group made it to the middle; our guidelines us all up and we followed her to the center of the maze. The tour was fun, but the bus was loud, very loud, and it was about an hour ride. I sat with another mom and we chatted both ways. It’s always fun to learn other people’s stories and find out how they arrived in Ireland (if they aren’t local).
My final volunteer endeavor of the year was Sports Day. This is just a fun day for the kids to play games and have ice cream. I helped in the Junior yard doing the bean bag toss. Some of the classes got a bit aggressive and tried to hit me a few times, or tossed the bags right into the parking lot; I definitely got my work out. It was fun to play with the kids and see them all having a grand time.
After games, they brought in an actual ice cream truck who gave out cones to everyone. Pretty cool. Then we had a basketball game, teachers vs. parents, I didn’t play. The parents won much to the chagrin of the much younger teachers. Overall, it was a fun day for kids and parents alike.
My first endeavor in school volunteering was a fun experience. I look forward to next year when Roxi starts Montessori, and I have even more time to volunteer. I’m even thinking of joining the PCA (PTA)and maybe teaching an afterschool class on creative writing. All this in order to expand my horizons, stretch out of my comfort zone, and really immerse myself into the community.
A few more pictures