Where I live, the school year is just wrapping up and it can be a very chaotic time. There are all sorts of field trips and assemblies going on, and kids receive ‘awards’ for their academic and athletic achievements. All of that is great, but my daughter’s school does something else that is a refreshing change…they celebrate the school volunteers by formally saying thank-you.
They invite anyone who has volunteered in the school, including members of the Parent Council, those who have attended field trips, individuals who have helped in the classroom, the library or in any other capacity, to the school for an “Appreciation Coffee Hour’. Coffee, punch and cookies are served and a slide presentation where they have ‘caught volunteers in the act’ throughout the year, is shown.
The best part of the hour though, is when they have the primary kids come in and do a little ‘performance’ and hand out a small gift of appreciation to each volunteer (last year it was a school magnet and this year a school water bottle). Children in other classes have also drawn pictures showing their appreciation, which are provided to the volunteers as keepsakes.
I have to admit, initially I was not going to go to this special event, as there just seemed to be too many other things to do (isn’t there always?). However, I was at a Parent Council meeting and the principal of the school said something that changed my mind. She said that even if you don’t think you deserve to be appreciated (e.g. my daughter’s teacher this year did not want volunteers, so all I did was belong to Parent Council), go anyway, so that the students can learn how to say thank-you.
What a great idea! After all, teaching kids appreciation is a very worthwhile life skill. Even if some of the children who participated had very little direct interaction with the volunteers, their teachers had spent time explaining how important volunteers were to the school and why every student should be grateful for them.
Not every volunteer that had been invited could make it to this event, but those of us who did, were very glad that we had made the effort!
Another way for kids to show thanks and to ‘give back’, is to have them go through their toys and give away what they don’t play with anymore, to children who are less fortunate. For tips on how to make this process a little less painful for both you and your children, see my post entitled “Teaching kids to declutter“.