I always tell people that I never thought I was a "kid person" until I was asked to help with the after-school tutoring program at Family Service Association of Redlands. Now, I have a hard time imagining how I would get along without them. I truly feel as though I have gained more from these children than I could ever give back. I have found that by tutoring (even just a couple of hours a week,) I have more patience, understanding, and I have developed a deeper connection to my community that carries through just about every aspect of my life.
Positivity and encouragement is the cornerstone to our program. No matter what may take place outside our doors, when a child comes to our agency for tutoring, they are met with smiles, high-fives, and unwavering enthusiasm for the development of their individual abilities and personalities. This open, honest, and happy environment has led to wonderful connections between tutors and the children and has created a safe place for the kids to learn and grow.
Something that is universal with every child that has come into our program is that each kid has said at some point: "I'm not good at.... (Math, English, etc.)” Or "I can't do this." However, once they are immediately countered with "Of course you can!" or "You're great at this!" from a smiling tutor, it seems like the children are instantly given the freedom to apply themselves to their tasks without fear and an almost visible blossoming takes place. It is absolutely priceless to see the pride in a child's eyes when they realize they have just accomplished something new with what they had inside themselves all along.
I am truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to volunteer with this program over the past several months, during which I have been able to see the natural growth and progress of many of the children. I think I get more excited than maybe even the boy or girl themselves when I see a child read a book they couldn't read last year, or how they're now doing "big kid Math." Without this program, I would never have had the opportunity to get to know so many different children, to see them as individuals, get to know their fantastic personalities, and dream with them about what they're going to be like when they grow up.
Every week, the kids come in to tutoring and ask me if I have missed them. My honest and immediate answer is always "Of course I did!" When they leave for the day and ask if I'll see them the following week, I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say "I wouldn't miss it for the world!"