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After School Program at Edison
An experience I’ll remember forever
By Kinsey Goins, Edison Student Volunteer

The After School Program was a very unique, fulfilling, and satisfying experience. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like the program since I didn't know any of the kids, or have any previous experience working in that type of environment. All of the Edison core values were used over the course of my participation in the program and it was a memorable experience that I will remember forever.

The first week was full of adjustments and figuring out the regulars, types of homework each student would have, and speed at which each individual child learned. Communication was key in the beginning few weeks of the program. Many of the children weren't comfortable with us at first, so we had to open ourselves up and engage them just as much, and even more in the beginning, than they did.  After we built relationships with different children it made each day a little easier. One of the harder things to gauge was how truthful the kids were being with me. When it came to homework I would just check their folder, but when it came to personal stories it was hard to tell if they were being truthful, so I just learned to listen, share empathy, and make sure they knew they had someone who would listen to them.

As young as these children were their sense of ethics wasn't very developed. They tended to fudge, or just completely not tell the truth. One kid might think name-calling or saying things that weren't appropriate is okay. It became our jobs as helpers to show these kids how to act and what was acceptable or not.

I remember one specific instance where critical thinking was something I had to use very quickly and on the spot. One child had made fun of another kid because he looked different; he was born this way and I had to explain to him how being different isn't bad or wrong, it is just different. I really had to dumb the explanation down since they all were first grade and younger. Not only did I have to explain why it was okay that he is different I also had to make sure the kid didn't feel discouraged or embarrassed in any way.

The kids came from different lives, grades, had different body types, and were even different races. For the most part the kids interacted well, which was a relief. They didn't seem to really care about the differences since they were so young and their peers or society hadn't told them any different, which was very encouraging to see. There were a few instances where some of the differences were a problem, but the volunteers handled each situation and every kid came out unscathed.

Inquiry and respect for learning was the main reason for this After School Program. We were there, and the children were there, to learn and become better students. Throughout all the sessions I got to see the individual children I worked with grow in their educations and succeed. I was able to witness a child who had struggled, and still does in a certain subject, make honor roll. It was so encouraging to see all these kids push themselves. From asking if I could write out math problems on a board to asking if they could read me a book.   

Teamwork and interpersonal skills developed over the course of the program. The kids formed groups with kids that were different ages, races, and grades and worked together helping each other learn and succeed. All the kids were able to work with kids they didn't see throughout the day without incident. As a volunteer I was able to bring kids together to make learning a little more fun and easier for them, and I was able to see relationships grow and have many, many laughs.

The only suggestion I have for improving the program would be nametags, especially in the first few weeks, and even more than what was done split the kids into their different grades and have them help each other and maybe have game time, or different activities planned out to keep the kids engaged.

This program was a phenomenal experience. It showed me that I would be good in a job that involved kids, even though I don't think it is something I would do. It helped me grow as a person; some days I didn't want to be there or was having a bad day, but I would have to put all that aside because one of the kids may be having a rough day and I had to be there for them.

Kinsey has completed 24.75 hours in Empowering Darke County Youth’s After School Program on the Edison Darke County Campus. To get details about her assignment, go to Edison Students Speak Out

To get more details about Empowering Darke County Youth and the After School Program, go to the Empowering Darke County Youth link.

This opinion is being published with permission, and was chosen for CNO readers due to the quality of the assignment submission and relevance of the topic. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of County News Online or Edison State Community College.

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