Summer Fun of Learning at Fiver Children’s Foundation
This summer I have had the privilege of working at an amazing non-profit organization known as the Fiver Children’s Foundation. At this organization, I am currently working on developing curriculum and facilitating the Literacy Program for 8-12 year old participants, also known LEARN. Majority of the children come from under resourced communities in New York City and Central New York. During the two weeks of the summer that participants stay at Fiver, children are exposed to numerous fun activities including educational components such as Environmental Education and the Literacy Program. With these educational programs in place, Fiver hopes to keep children learning and exploring their surroundings. Not only does the Literacy Program help young participants develop a sense of love and curiosity for learning but it also guides participants in identifying the importance of education and finally how it all connects to their future success and professions.
During these past four weeks, I have been constantly brainstorming and formulating curriculum that might be appealing and fun for the children. Being able to really think about how to relate to the children and what keeps them engaged has been one of the biggest challenges, but being creative, open-minded, and willing to be flexible has helped me along the way. I have been able to make connections to many participants just by asking what their interests are and how I can possibly relate the lesson to their interest. This has made classes more exciting and keeps participants engaged. However, some lessons can be harder to facilitate because it might not be necessarily what the participants are interested in at the moment but the lesson still needs to be taught. When this happens, I try to be as creative as possible to spin some things around and make it as fun as I can for the specific age group.
History Definitely Repeats Itself- Just in Better Ways
In the past, I have worked in similar settings facilitating classes for first year college students and while the age range has changed drastically, there are many things that I have learned that I bring into my classes at Fiver. One of the things I practice most is my patience.
Working with 8-12 year olds can be very difficult and at times they march to the beat of their own drum, but being patient and understanding their needs is crucial in terms of behavior management and having them participate in lessons. Another skill/strength of mine I can bring to the table in this position is my flexibility and willingness to learn. As a fellow that is also an alum of the program, there are a lot of things that I understand and feel comfortable with, therefore, I am not afraid to ask for help when needed or ask questions. Being familiar with the program has made my transition much easier but also much more challenging because when needing an extra hand, I always make myself available to make the load of others lighter.
Growing up within this environment and have already gone through the same motions that the participants that I serve now as a young child myself, has definitely served as a positive when facilitating and developing curriculum. I am very comfortable when it comes to sharing my past experiences of when I was a participant and connecting my emotions to theirs when having conversations about being homesickness at camp or having a hard time making friends. A lot of times this familiarity makes the participants feel very comfortable and even encourages participants to open up about their fears and challenges, not only in my class but throughout their time at camp and even back at home. Having this honor of giving back to the place that gave so much to me has been an amazing experience and with hopes of becoming an educator and/or guidance counselor one day, having the ability to work on my skills and learn through Fiver has been a blessing.
As someone who would like to pursue elementary education and/or guidance counseling, this opportunity has provided me with a variety of experiences that relate to my field. Being in a classroom learning how to behavior manage while trying to teach a lesson and thinking on my feet when times get overwhelming, are all things I can take with me for future career purposes. Working with such an amazing organization and group of children, has really helped me grow a passion for teaching and has solidified my desire to work with children. This has been an amazing experience so far and I hope to continue to learn and grow within these next couple of weeks at Fiver Children’s Foundation.
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