This morning I wrote up a little series of tweets about volunteering my time to read at my 8-year-old son's school class. I've had some thoughts bubbling away about this for a while, so instead of yelling them into the void that is Twitter I thought I'd expand a little here.
In short, since the middle of the year I've spent an hour each Friday morning in my son's classroom, reading with the kids in a one-on-one environment. It's been much more enjoyable and more personally satisfying than I ever thought it'd be, so I'm here to tell you: if you've got the means, you should volunteer at your kids school.
Typically I'll spend 5-10 minutes reading with a student, we have a quick chat (kids can be so random - we chat about sports, their weekend, their teddy bear, a younger sibling, the book..) then they return to the class and the next person comes in. It's been a fun way to build relationships with my son's peers, who I otherwise only see in passing or at a birthday party.
The part that I'd expected was that at age 6-8, kids have wildly varying abilities when it comes to reading. What I hadn't expected was to have kids wave at me at McDonalds or the park and say "Hi Ross" instead of just "Aren't you my friend's dad?".
It took a long time to start volunteering, for no good reason whatsoever. As a full-time worker it's very easy to say "I don't have time" or "work won't let me", but in practice I've been lucky enough to make it work with very little effort. I typically work from home on Fridays so start work a bit late and finish a little late. In the 6 months I've been doing this I've had zero issues with clients.
I know that not everybody has the luxury of flexible working times, but those of us who do have so should make sure we use that flexibility wisely. It may not only help a kid who doesn't get a chance to read at home that often, but you'll make new friends and have a good time.