Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Student Reflection

by Hannah Perhai

Hello again! Hannah Perhai here with an update on my experiences in the community!

This semester, I'm volunteering for the S.O.A.R. Program at Booker T. Washington Elementary. It stands for Student Opportunities for After-School Resources, and it provides after-school tutors for the children at the school via University students. Lots of different students get involved: people looking for Education hours, Spanish students like me, and those who just love working with children and making a difference. These students travel out to the temporary location of Booker T. Washington (pictured) every Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday to work with the kids who participate in S.O.A.R.

So where does Spanish come into play? Well, Booker T. Washington is a bilingual school with many Spanish-speaking students. The earlier grades are taught in a mix of Spanish and English, so I've been paired with a Spanish-speaking second grader. He is more comfortable with Spanish, so we get to learn together as he works on his schoolwork and I practice my Spanish!

A typical day in a S.O.A.R. classroom consists of circle time, homework time, at least twenty minutes of reading, and then free time.  In circle time, the whole classroom comes together to learn a quick lesson or do an activity. Right now we are learning different health tips, and last week we learned the value of stretching before exercising.

Next comes homework time. Most often, the kids have math homework to finish up. My child's homework is always written in Spanish, so this is where I get to start practicing my language skills. 
Before homework and reading every day, the tutor and student are expected to set a daily goal. Usually, our goals are something like "read three books." These books can count toward the daily expectation of reading at least twenty minutes during reading time. The kids get a sticker for every day that they accomplish this goal, and at the accumulation of six, they get a prize.  My student and I read books in both Spanish and English, and we talk about the story in Spanish.

Finally comes free time, when we are free to play games or play in the gym on some days. This time is always very open and free, so I get to meet the other students and join with them and their tutors for different board games or card games. Last week, I played Uno while speaking about the rules of the game and chatting in Spanish! When someone called out "Uno!" it was very appropriate. :)

So, all in all I've been enjoying my volunteering experience so far. S.O.A.R. is a great program with a heart for educating our youth. I am very happy to be working with it. There are plenty of difficulties, which I plan to discuss in my next blog post, but the rewards are far greater. Let's see what the rest of the semester has to offer!

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