Service Learning Helps Students Examine World, Themselves

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Posted on: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 by Kevin Call
Although the hallways and classrooms at Meadowview Elementary may be empty and quiet after the dismissal bell rings, the sounds of children’s laughter and excitement fill the cafeteria where students attend an after-school program.

Although the hallways and classrooms at Meadowview Elementary may be empty and quiet after the dismissal bell rings, the sounds of children’s laughter and excitement fill the cafeteria where students attend an after-school program.

As many as 32 students from the school benefit from the program, coordinated by the Emory & Henry Tutoring Program.  Each semester, teachers identify students who can benefit from the individual attention that an after-school program offers.

During spring semester, the Emory & Henry Tutoring Program expanded the operation of its after-school program to accommodate more service opportunities for E&H students and to offer greater learning experiences for youth in the community. Instead of meeting twice each week, the after-school program is held Monday through Thursday at Meadowview Elementary.

Serving students in kindergarten through fifth grades at the school, the program operates from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m. on the four days each week.  Students in grades Kindergarten through second attend the program on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students in grades third through fifth attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The primary goal of the after-school program is to enrich the lives of the elementary students by offering programming that helps students to improve learning and socialization skills, and also to promote healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. Most educators will agree that learning from textbooks in the classroom is not adequate for the development of children. Young students flourish from opportunities to learn something new and to experience new things. 

During the after-school program, the students spend the first 15 minutes exercising in the gymnasium. “After sitting in the classroom during the day, the children really need this time to run, play and get the wiggles out,” said E&H tutor Alisyn Bales.

Following a brief snack time, E&H tutors pair with children to begin homework and skill-building activities. Tutors help the students to improve upon the lessons they learn during the day. Since the school day is divided between many activities, the allotted time may not be enough for children to fully master the concepts of each subject. After-school tutoring allows children to practice the concepts that were introduced during the school day.

The last 25 minutes of the after-school program is devoted to introducing enrichment activities for the students. That could mean a fun science experiment, an art project, singing and dancing, or trying their hands at following a recipe. The enrichment activities are designed to help students build critical thinking, listening, and concentration skills.

Students learn new skills that broaden their area of interests. During recent after-school sessions, the students discovered how ice, salt and a few other basic ingredients can turn out homemade ice cream.  They also learned how to make pudding from milk and a box of instant pudding mix.

Tutors have just as much fun as the kids.  “The after-school program is one of my favorite parts of attending college,” said Bales. “It’s the best thing I’ve gotten involved in at Emory & Henry. To know that you're making such a difference in these children’s lives is a wonderful feeling. I can tell a difference in their grades, their demeanor, and their attitude toward school work,” she said.

“The children are all extremely different. Some like school, others don't. Some students hate math and would rather play games instead of work problems. A lot of these children do not have the support at home that most children receive, and because of that, these programs are extremely important. These after-school programs help foster a love for learning that is essential to life.”