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"A year from now you will wish you had started today."  Karen Lamb

ALPHABET SCAVENGER HUNT

I have the privilege of volunteering at a local elementary school one morning a week. I always look forward to this day. Spending time with 5- and 7-year old’s in a learning environment is an opportunity to be reminded of how interesting children are. It is also a reminder of how suggestible and vulnerable they are.

Over the course of three hours I spend time with individual children and small groups, supporting them with reading, writing and math activities. Of course, in the process, there is often a range of little squabbles and displays of frustration with the learning process.  

Some are naturally social and confident with their peers, their teacher and me, the helper. Some are shy, withdrawn and have difficulty expressing themselves. Some learn easily while others struggle to keep up with their peers. So much personality is displayed. I often find myself wondering what the future holds for these little spirits.

I wonder what their homelife is like, what values they are being taught, and whether the environment supports their natural tendencies and potential? What a monumental responsibility it is to be a parent. I can only hope that good seeds are being planted, but of course, I know that is not always the case. Every adult I see began life as a delicate little sponge.

The other day I roamed around the school, on an alphabet scavenger hunt with two little five-year-old boys. Each had a sheet of paper with the alphabet and the goal was to find the letters on the posters and art work along the walls of the hallways.

These little guys were excited to have the freedom to wander around. They were pumped up and eager to complete the assignment. Each time I pointed out a new letter they hunkered down onto the floor and earnestly scanned their sheets, looking for the proper letter. Once they found it, they carefully wrote it.

They helped each other, called each other “man” “dude” and “buddy.” It was clear that one was more of a leader and one was the follower, at least during this particular activity. This dynamic seemed to be perfectly comfortable for them. They had fun and were determined to complete the whole sheet, even if “it meant missing lunch.”

A little fellow on his way to the bathroom asked about the alphabet scavenger hunt and wanted to join in. He was crestfallen to realize that he wouldn’t be able to join in because his teacher would be expecting him back in class. Other older children moving between classes, stopped to say hello to the boys and give alphabet advice.

Such a simple fun one-hour adventure roaming the halls, while learning. There were no reprimands, no belittling, no shaming, no being put on the spot. Just a fun excursion with many smiles, laughs and connection through teamwork.

After the alphabet scavenger hunt these two little guys sat together and shared lunch. The adventure was a small one, really just one little experience in their busy school day. Yet, I know that it is these little moments of shared connection with others that helps to build our resilience. It truly was a privilege to be a part of that.