For rocket boy’s first two years at school I volunteered to be one of the class parents. When I did it I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into, but I thought it would be good to get to know other parents at school and to help with my Dutch conversations. It was an experience I really enjoyed and I’m sure I will do it again (as long as I’m able to), but I’m letting someone else do it this year!
The class parent is a role that helps out the teacher for special events. So for the Sinterklaas party, or the Christmas dinner, and other events at school they are asked to stay and help. Helping at these events means making sure that all of the children are in the right place at the right time, and helping with food and drinks. As I was class parent for the youngest class I probably had more to do than those for the older classes, where the children can do more for themselves. I think there were four or five events I was asked to help with during the school year. And then some other events, like Carnaval and Sport’s Day and decorating the school for Christmas, they ask all parents if they can help, as they need more people.
It was an experience I really enjoyed, as I got to stay in the class and be with the children. Many of them I knew, as friends of rocket boy, but others I only really knew their names. It was great to see their differences and how they all interacted with each other. And my respect for their teacher increased ten-fold. She has twenty-to-thirty children between four and six years old every day of the week on her own. (Teaching assistants don’t seem to be as common in the Netherlands as they are in the UK. At least not in primary, and I have no idea about secondary yet.) And she had them all under control, and enjoying themselves learning.
Generally classes have two or three class parents, and as far as I can tell all classes through primary have them . I know from friends with children at other schools that their class parents also co-ordinated lifts for all the class trips. But we didn’t have to do that as the teachers’ did it. The only thing we did outside of the class was to collect money from all of the parents for a class present to the teachers at the end of the year. We also got all of the children to make something collectively as a gift , which we then put together into a whole. The first year they all got a rectangle of cloth to draw on, which we then sewed together into a pirate flag. Then last year we gave them all a piece of cardboard, which we stuck together to make a knight’s shield. Both of these tied into the theme that they were doing at school at the time.
And starry girl enjoyed it too, as she had to come along with me and help too! I hope that this experience, as well as going to school twice a day with rocket boy, will make the start of school less daunting for her. So far it seems to be working, as she often tells me about which class she’s going to be in. Once she starts I will have to chose which class to help out with, as most of the events are school-wide so I wouldn’t be able to do both. Decisions for another day!