Friday, November 30, 2012

Starting Primary One #3 - My Parent Volunteer story

Sometime in June 2011, I received a call from the school asking if I am able to take up the duty of distributing food coupons during recess time.  "Of course I am!  Able to do full day shift too!" I calmly replied *can you sense my excitement?*  The teacher was very happy to hear it as not all parents are able to commit full day's time and sometimes they have difficulties in finding parents to fill in the next slot. 

On 01 July 2011, I started my Parent Volunteer duty officially; giving out Breakfast/Lunch Box coupons for the students under the MOE FAS (Financial Assistance and Bursary) Scheme.  I reported to the school's general office slightly before 8.45am, the administrative lady gave me some simple instructions and pass me a thick A4 file, a name list, a ruler & a pair of scissors then showed me to a table outside the general office. 

There are 3 recess times for each sessions, each lasting for about 30 mins; means I will have to sit at the table for about 1 hour and 45 mins each sessions (8.45am to 10.30am and 2.15pm to 4pm), I will leave the school for my lunch and be back before 2.15pm for the afternoon duty.

While I waited nervously and patiently for the morning session's 1st recess bell to ring, the administrative lady's specific instruction rings in my head "Make sure they queue up to take the coupons and not crowd around you.", I was prepared to be mobbed by the kids.  My worries were unfounded coz the 1st bell releases the Pri 2 students who are a little bit shy and quiet, perhaps they were surprise to see a new auntie sitting at the table.  They queued up in a single file patiently waiting for me while I fumble fanatically to look for their names and pass them the coupons.  Such sweet kids!  How I wish the older kids are this sweet too but then where's the FUN?  Kids should be loud, playful, noisy when its play time!

It was an easy job, the students basically will queue up and sometimes their group of friends tagged along creating a little bit of distraction and disorder, they will give their names to which I will check the list and put a tick against their name, pass the sticker that has their name on it to them and we are done!  Oh ya, I do have to work FAST though so that the coupons are given out at the shortest time and the students have ample time to eat their food with some leisure time before class starts in a while.  However there are those who prefers to do the opposite, I have a boy who prefers to ran to me for the coupons and grabbed his food just 5 minutes before the bell rings.  I asked him once and he said "I am not hungry, and want to play with my friends first."  but but but... "its unhealthy to gobble your food boy!" the Mother in me frown and said silently in my heart.

Sitting at the table, basically doing nothing after 10-15mins into the recess time, I started to observe my surroundings.  The favourite game seems to be Catching or Hamtam Bola, I've witnessed students running (NOT suppose to run along the corridor), falling, getting hit real hard by the ball and hurting themselves only to get up whinning in pain for 30 secs before taking off again.  I see students go into the general office with bleeding knee cap or elbow; injury due to "rough" play, to request for some medication to be applied on the wound.  My heart always goes out to the students who fell or injured themselves, I have an urge to get up from my chair and rush to them but have to hold myself back because I was not suppose to interact much with the students.

I also took in the students' behaviour towards the Principal & Teachers.  They are so courteous and polite, they bow and said Good morning/afternoon Teacher when they cross path with them, they even do it to me and call me Teacher *blush* I paid attention to the interaction between the teachers and the students and listen attentively during the assembly after each recess time; announcements made, students reprimanded for doing dangerous acts or bad behaviour or are praised for doing something good etc.  Wow, the teachers are strict!  I like!

Being stuck behind a table outside the general office tends to make me look like an information counter.  I have to direct the parents, delivery men or contractors (they were building an extended wing) to the general office.  I'm ok with it, because its a lonely work as I do not get the chance to see other parent volunteers thus no chance to chit chat and gossip.  The teachers or the cleaners basically just leave me alone, occasionally when the Principal is out walking his rounds he will stop by to chat with me for a few minutes before going off.

Besides this duty, I also did a ad hoc volunteer duty; the 2011 Primary One registration, in July 2011.  Though I am only there to help to call up the queue number, pass the form for the parents to fill in and make photocopies of the necessary documents, I roughly know what are the documents to prepare and the procedures. 

I managed to clock my 40 hours (with extra 30mins) on 11 November 2011, I could have finished it sometime in September/October 2011 but I only do the morning duty in July, going into full day duty in August.  On top of that there were days where school is closed for exams, exam paper marking days, term break etc so it stretches till that long.  The school sometimes will send out emails to the parents for any ad hoc duties where they need parents to help out on like during school camp, Racial Harmony Day, school sports day etc.  I could have volunteered thus clocking my hours faster but I decided to leave it for the other parents who are unable to commit their time to a specific day like me.  They needed these ad hoc duties more then me.

On 11 November, the last day of parent volunteer duty, I felt a pang of sadness.  I have started to get used to the students, even know a few of their names, I try to make small talk within the few minutes they were with me.  Being kids, they are more the willing to chat with me.  I see a little bit of DinoEgg's behaviour in some of them and wish deeply in my heart that he will become as good student as some of them.  After being inside the school for the passed 5 months, I now can rest assure that DinoPapa made a good choice to insist on this school.

So at 4pm I bid the school good bye and leave the school for the last time on a Friday afternoon.

~ ~ ~

For the next few weeks I will be sharing our experience on our preparation for DinoEgg's Primary One.  I hope it will serve as a useful guide to parents when its their time to get their child ready for the new journey and have an idea how Parent Volunteer works.

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  1. interesting to read about your experience :) can you still continue volunteering even though you have clocked all your hours? seems like you like it and will also get to see your kid in sch!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    1. I don't think its possible since there are other parents who are volunteering. However I know there is a parent community club in this school where parents join to be involved with their kids and school.

  2. Wa! Bowing Teacher Jen?!? Donch play play - NYPS style? :p

    But thanks for sharing. The P school I wanted for Dumpling doesn't have PV system anymore so sigh... Am sorta stuck now. :/

    1. Nvm, maybe when its your time the PV thing will be scrapped.