Eagle Eye Guy

 My daughter's school has a program that encourages father's and male figures to participate in school by volunteering.  It used to be called "Eagle Eye Dad", but has been changed to Guy to be more inclusive.

As soon as communication about the program came out, I signed up on the waiting list.  The program coordinator reached out to me and I got a day scheduled.  All I knew was that it would go from 7:30-11 on a Friday.  I was hopeful that I would get assigned to my daughter's room, but didn't know what it was that I would actually be doing.  

Because I wasn't sure what I would be doing, I did not tell my daughter what I was doing.  I didn't want to build expectations in her mind that wouldn't be met.  The day-of, I left a bit earlier than normal and my wife walked my daughter to school at the normal time.  

I checked in at the office and started helping in the car line, which was busier than normal thanks to the rain.  I got my itinerary and was happy to see that I would be in my daughter's classroom for half of the day.   But to start, I would go on the morning announcements with my daughter.  Before that though, I had to actually get my daughter.  My wife left her phone at home and so she didn't get my message that my daughter should be delivered to me at the main entrance and not to her normal Kindergarten entrance.  Luckily, I had my Eagle Eyes on that day and saw them as they were talking to their door and could intercept her.

She has been in school for a quarter, but is very clearly set in her routines.  She was visibly anxious about not going into her classroom like normal, even though she was with me.  I had to transition my efforts from helping in the carline to helping her work through this audible.  Telling her she was going to get to be on the morning announcements with me did not help.  What did help was empowering her to "help" me find where we were supposed to go.  Once she started helping she was back to her excited self.  At least until we got under the lights of the morning announcements.

We had a quick "rehearsal" where we both sat in the chairs in front of the camera.  That rehearsal was completely necessary because my daughter was terrified - I couldn't even get her to sit in the chair.  Going through that allowed me to talk to her after and boost her confidence.  For the real thing, she did great - it made me feel like an A+ dad.  And of course, once it was over, she got to take me to her classroom, so she was super excited to be helping again.

I went to the class with her.  She has a teacher and a teacher's assistant for the 16 kids in the class.  I was the third adult in the room.  The abilities of the kids range wildly.  My daughter learned everything she's going to learn academically in kindergarten last year during COVID when we held her out of preschool.  Our goal for her is the social interaction.  Not everybody taught their children an entire year's curriculum during the year before school, though.  

I will say that I am super impressed with the teacher's classroom management skills.  The kids were all good, which is easy to say is a function of the kids, and to an extent it is, but it was mostly because of the way the teacher kept the kids moving (figuratively and literally), interested, and engaged.  It's a skill and she made it look easy.

That was great for me, because it allowed me to roam the room helping the kids do their coloring, or their sight words, or whatever else they needed, without needing to be a disciplinarian.  It was truly a wonderful experience, made all the better by getting to see my daughter excel in school - both academically (raising her hand and answering questions!), and socially (playing with lots of kids!).  

I went to three other classes throughout the day - 2nd grade, 5th grade, and 4th grade.  It is amazing how much more independent the kids get as they get older.  I enjoyed seeing what to look forward to as my kids get older.  I was also amazed at the seating arrangements - in the 4th grade class, all of the kids had exercise balls for chairs, and in the 5th grade class the kids got to choose between exercise balls, high chars (for a high table), and pedestal seats.  Clearly teachers have learned that kids are always going to fidget, so you might as well lean into it instead of fighting it.

All-in-all it is an awesome program, and I will definitely be volunteering again.  The insight I got in the classroom was invaluable (trying to glean any of that information from my daughter is nigh-impossible).  And of course, I shared it with my wife.  It was nice reassurance that she is doing well, is well adjusted, and served as a bit of a validation that we are doing OK as parents. 


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