Our school has an after school program called Skill Builders.  It is a 2 month program for kids who need extra help in Reading or Math.  The students stay after school 2 afternoons a week for an hour each session.  They are in small groups and work with a teacher on Math or Reading.

I’ve always thought about volunteering for this.  I don’t know what possessed me to volunteer this year, but I did.  I asked for Reading because I love to read.  Instead, I was assigned Math.

I was nervous at first, but I asked other teachers if it was similar to helping your kids with their homework.  They assured me it was exactly like that.

I met with the Math Specialist in our building several times.  She got me all of the material.  She has answered questions all along the way.

I have a group of four 4th graders.  They are all nice kids.  We are having a lot of fun together.  The first day I had to make copies of the materials for them.  We walked down the hall together and they had a mini dance party walking down the hall.  They are now obsessed with Dance Parties.  They ask for them every class.  So far, we’ve had one 2 minute Dance Party.  The other days we have been too busy with our work.

When a teacher is absent we have other students join us.  Our group has been as big as 6 or 7.  We have had a few additional students who are not as enthusiastic about being in an after school math class.  One of my students said, “Why are you here if you don’t like math?”

That’s the kind of kid you want in your class.  This week we had one student join us who worked until the very end and then refused to work.  My kids asked, “Why isn’t she working anymore?”  I said, “She must have had a really long day.  I think she’s done as much as she can today.  You all are persevering.  You are continuing to learn.  She needs a break, I guess.”  They couldn’t quite wrap their heads around that.  Sweetly, after class they even approached her to ask why she didn’t want to keep working.

Yesterday I had the best moment.  I had two students working together as a team.  One boy was working on his own.  I was working with another student.  We finished the task at hand, but the other three weren’t ready to come back together as a group.  I came up with a few problems off the cuff for the child I was working with.

All of these students have trouble with time questions.  I came up with this problem.  “You wake up at 6:15.  You have to leave for school at 7:30.  How much time do you have to get ready?”

After a bit, we worked through the 6:15-7:15.  I began drawing clock pictures.  I shaded in 15 minute increments and we figured out what that looked like.  I showed this student what 30 minute increments look like.  Then we got to 45 minute increments.


The smile that lit up this child’s face was amazing.  This person was so proud to have figured it out I would could see that they really understood.

High fives all around.

Sadly, this is a program that is now in danger of being cut.  These kids are getting an hour of extra attention from a teacher who has a different way of explaining things.  They are having fun learning.  They like getting the help.

These economic times stink.  It’s too bad that the youngest kids are not going to receive the help they need.  Please go out and support your school’s budget!

–Running Girl


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gail on April 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm



  2. Posted by Anna on April 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm


    Thank you for teaching kids how to tell time with a traditional clock. That’s a very important skill that so many of our children lack.


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