12 Ways to Maintain the Christmas Spirit AFTER Christmas (4)

four-1426634_1280For the fourth service project in 2017, I decided to do something near and dear to my heart, tutor elementary school children. Can you believe it took me two months to find a place to actually volunteer? YReads, associated with the YMCA is the name of the program I chose. After I found a program, it took a full three months (or so) for me to be approved. I’d forgotten that working with children requires a million and one items: application, resume, three references, a webinar about not molesting children, and a background check. Sheesh! This is why I didn’t begin until April.

During April and May, I tutored children in reading. But, these aren’t just any children. Have you heard the term ESL? If not, it stands for English as a Second Language. These children attend one of Jacksonville’s designated ESL schools. I typically have the same two students at the beginning of the hour. One is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the second half hour, I tutor students who are Hispanic, mostly from Mexico.

My time with these children has been hopeful. Little kids are resilient and motivated in a multitude of ways. For example, the Congolese girl moved to the States two years ago. English is one of four languages she speaks.

“Where you from?” she asked on day one.

“I live here in Jacksonville, like you,” I responded.

“Noooo. Where you from???”

She’s so perceptive. Guess she’d wondered, as others have asked before, you not from ‘round here, huh? I ended up telling her that I was born and raised in Chicago and her eyes brightened. From that day forward, I knew Maya and I had bonded.

Week three she thought I wasn’t coming, and when I walked in the door, her face lit up.

“You’re heeeere!” she exclaimed.

“Of course Maya! I’ve been looking all over for you. I thought you weren’t here,” I put on.

I love children of all ages. It’s one of three things with which I have a natural ability. Therefore, tutoring for one hour a week wasn’t strenuous. And although I don’t know for sure what the impact will be, I suspect I’ve positively influenced Maya’s life in some way just by being there.

YReads is a state of Florida initiative; however, I’m sure your city and state has a similar tutoring program designed to support children’s literacy. Tutoring is a way to give back to your own community that is sure to yield high returns.

Have you tutored before? Do you teach or have you taught? Let me know what you think about this service project.

*Maya is a pseudonym.

54 thoughts on “12 Ways to Maintain the Christmas Spirit AFTER Christmas (4)

  1. “I love children of all ages. It’s one of three things with which I have a natural ability.”

    Evening, Kathy. I don’t mean to pry. But if you’d like to mention what the two other things are, I’d be interested to hear. Bye till next time —

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was a literacy tutor for elementary kids for about ten years. Very very rewarding volunteer work. I’m going to start again after my daughter goes off to college next year.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lucky you. In all my volunteer efforts with the YMCA I also had to take “concussion training.” Guess that’s rare with reading tutoring though. Not the same as soccer. My hesitation with tutoring is that I would never be able to stop. Sports have a season. Learning never ends. I’m afraid if I started I’d have to quit my job because of the 37 kids I couldn’t let down.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sheesh! Yes, if I would’ve had to take concussion training, then I probably would’ve never been able to start lol Aha! Tutoring had a season too; it ended with the school year. So, in a way I was also lucky that I participated during the last two months.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So inspiring to see how well you’ve kept your word on being of service. That said, “Ain’t no mo’ green beans!”
    But seriously, years ago, when I worked in Adult Learning, I used to guest speak at an ESL class for adults. They’d bring me in to help the students practice understanding Black Southern dialect.
    LOL!!! It was so much fun! They loved it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You…are…so…crazy lol but so right lol They wasn’t having it at that shelter!

      VERY cool about guest speaking to teach Southern dialect. People forget that is actually a language and it does require some background knowledge for sure. Otherwise, you’ll be wondering how to “cut on the light” and such.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! It was so much fun because they did not know how to “cut the light off!”
        Or what it means when you ‘finta have to do somethin’ cause nobody else aint studin’ that mess!’ ROTFLMBAO!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is story is amazing, you are amazing for sharing something so amazing. I spend every night after work and give up my lunch time to give extra time to students to support them in different ways. They are the future stars and sunshine. Keep spreading love and light.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words 🙂 What you’ve described is impressive. A lot of teachers don’t take their jobs quite as seriously as you. I’m sure those students appreciate it and will be better served because of your actions.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful, KE. Early childhood is the best time to learn another language, bless you for helping Maya and others to get a good start here in the USA. Working with kids definitely involves a “process” but is so rewarding to make a difference in a young life. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So inspiring. You are tackling one of our biggest challenges
    head on. The projections show by 2020 over 80% of information
    will be visual. Which is French for a MASSIVE drop in literacy.
    What good will all these tablets & smartphones be good for when
    the literacy rates continue to drop. Simply spending time &
    encouraging reading is going to do far more than a quick technology
    fix. Thank you for all that you do, it truly is an inspiration.

    It is our job to take care of each other, & the youth coming up,
    we are all in this together.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great article. Lovely that your volunteer. We need more volunteers in our school.

    I am a elementary teacher. Your ring of family words, reminds me of when I taught the lower grades 2nd and 3rd. I have a few ESL students in my class who, a couple come during lunch and we read. (I had to promise them their recess) 20 minutes of phonics and word attack skills, makes a world of difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kudos to you! Tutoring reminded me of why I chose high school instead lol That age group is inquisitive and sweet…and also very talkative 🙂

      It’s cool that you take your lunch time to support their literacy skills. It’s so important for them.


  9. As a teacher who presently teaches elementary school full time, I couldn’t just pass this post by. Everyday is a whole new experience. I sincerley hope I can learn from you to be able to improve my class and help my children more.
    I am also a photographer and a member of Rotary International. I hope to go a volunteering teaching journey around sub-Saharan Africa soon. Trying to gather funds for my camera and some other stuffs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very cool! I noticed you were a teacher when I followed your blog. I think your efforts are noble and you sound as if you’re already very committed to the profession. I used to sponsor a club called Interact, which (as you probably know) is the high school version of Rotary. They do great things! Good luck with all of your endeavors/adventures 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, I used to tutor for the East Harlem Tutorial Program when I lived in NYC. I had a regular young girl who I became a mentor and really helped her keep her grades up. I missed her so much when I moved back to Maryland.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Nope. They didn’t allow outside contact. I wish they did. I think it’s cool to make sure that the kids stay on the right track, but I think it may be a liability for companies. I am trying to put my son in the Sigma Beta Club to have that mentoring opportunity and learn the importance of brotherhood even at this age.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. It doesn’t get much better than giving back to the community especially when it involves the growth of our children. I thought when you first began this project it was such a good idea and it’s like it keeps getting better. Keeping the Christmas spirit alive throughout the year is something we should all strive for. Thank you for doing this Kathy!💗

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Tutoring is a good way to teach yourself to be patient, I always felt. 😉
    I’ve worked with children between 10 and 13 who had/have behavioral issues and helping them improve their reading skills, was such a gratefull and rewarding feeling.
    Working with children between 15 and 18, also with behavioral issues, that was a real challenge and up to today, I am so grateful for the teacher who was my mentor. Learned a lot from that man. Keep calm and be assertive, still hard to do regularly for this impatient woman, especially the calm part… hahaha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you could relate to this one Patty! What you’ve said is so true, especially if you’re working with children who have behavioral issues. I once taught at a school that served behavioral disordered students. However, you’re right. That was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had and one of the places where I could tell I made a difference. I totally understand what you’re saying about patience! It’s my word for the year. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice this year lol

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Love this idea! I tutored for years through parent leadership groups and community service groups when my children were still in school. Health concerns and living in a new city I know little about have curbed my enthusiasm. But you’ve created a spark! Thanks! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’ve tutored as a volunteer with two different teenagers, helped elementary school children with their reading and taught essay skills to a small group of high schoolers. Each time was very rewarding. There is nothing to beat one on one attention for kids struggling with their schooling and teachers can’t do that, so volunteer tutoring is a really important way to close the gap.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting! I agree that one-on-one attention is extremely important for everyone, especially for struggling students. Glad to see you’ve done so much for your own community 🙂


  15. Kathy, well done on your volunteering! Oh, it does take so much paperwork to just get going but guess it’s to keep everyone safe. I love the sound of perceptive Maya and the rapport you’re building with her. I volunteered for many years in a school helping with the reading. The children were wonderful and I was always astounded by how wise and astute many were, and such warmth and humour. My only concern was that some teachers were negative to any concerns I had about how some children reading ability failed to develop. Wishing you much joy with your volunteer work. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Annika! Good grief! It was so much, but you’re right. I forgot about the importance of keeping students as safe as possible. Happy to hear that you’ve been a school volunteer! I’m glad you mentioned this too. One of the best parts of this is it was at the YMCA, so it was removed from the school system in some ways. I hope this doesn’t sound negative, but in a sense, there was no classroom teacher to “get in the way” of how students were/were not progressing. There was only the director. Thanks for the well wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Ah! So inspiring you are! What a sweet little story. I’ve been researching where/how I can tutor children in reading, comprehension and writing! I feel like a spark has been relit after this read. And my friend sent me a video on the “five-second rule” last night; if you don’t go for it within the first five seconds of giving it thought, you won’t do it. Or you’ll come back to it much later and the opportunity may have passed.

    So, time to really get on it! Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  17. What a great action of paying it forward you are taking!

    I have tutored young kids and served as a mentor for serval years. It is verrryy rewarding! So many kids need this. Please continue!

    Liked by 5 people

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