Updated: Mar 23
On March 8th we started a new endeavor. For the first time since Open Arms opened our doors, we changed our tutoring program so that our main goal was to address something other than the main academic subjects of reading and math.
We still have tutoring every other week to focus on reading with a small group of students, most in early elementary grades, who are still learning the basic skills necessary to read. However, overall our tutoring program has gone through some massive changes this year. This is due to many reasons including the fact that school has changed and students now rarely, if ever, have homework. We also have had far fewer volunteers, so we are unable to meet the needs of students who require one-on-one attention. Thus, having this smaller group helps meet the needs of these early readers on their own special tutoring night.
However, I want the main focus of this particular blog post to be about the older elementary students, the ones who do have the basic mechanics of reading down. These students are now invited to be part of a different kind of program, also on Tuesday evenings (on weeks when the younger tutoring students are not meeting). These students are focusing on skills which teachers have identified are lacking across the board in students, especially since the start of the pandemic. What skills are those? Social and Emotional skills.
Social and Emotional Learning standards are included in school curricula and required by state standards, Unfortunately, with as far behind as most students have fallen academically, it is often one of the things many teachers do not have as much time to focus on. However, these "soft skills" are necessary not only in the classroom, but also for the rest of one's life. They include things like: controlling one's emotional response, working in a team, taking turns, showing empathy, and understanding multiple perspectives.
How are we teaching these skills? That's the best part: We are teaching the skills through a wide variety of activities that don't feel like "work", they feel like "fun"! We play games, listen to guest speakers, have group discussions, and do group activities together. We talk about our feelings and work through conflict together. We model responsible decision making.
Kids Club is a small group currently, but there is potential for growth next year. If you are interested in being a guest speaker to teach the group a special skill or talk about your job, hobby, or favorite fascinating activity, let us know!