Jessica Huang Summer of Service Reflection

A+ Academy is a preparatory school in Brooklyn dedicated to helping children from the ages of 7 to 16 who struggle academically, especially in terms of test-taking. Volunteers sometimes do office work and speak to parents about their children’s progress, but most of the time, we were grading tests and homework, overseeing detention, and tutoring kids who were having more trouble in their classes.¬†Over the summer of 2013 and throughout this school year, I volunteered at one of the three branches of A+ Academy. I was responsible for tutoring many younger children, most of them 7 to 9, who were struggling with math and reading in their classes. I did not have much experience working with younger children, who I found, for some reason, were difficult to bribe with sweets and stickers. I definitely gained a lot from my experience as a volunteer at A+. I had to learn to be gentle and very, very patient with the younger children, which was nearly impossible for me to do, and I learned that teaching students of any age is hard because not everyone responds to the same teaching methods or explanations. Sometimes more creative or visual methods are necessary for those who have not yet learned to take in information taught the traditional way. Up until I was 11, I was also sent to similar summer and saturday schools to reinforce my basic reading and arithmetic skills, but this experience allowed me to work on the other side, teaching kids instead of being taught. I could see that some kids who were 12 or 13 really resented their parents for forcing them to go to summer school or prep on the weekends during the year and I remember feeling the same way the last few years I was forced to go, but prep really did help me not really in terms of academics, but with organization and discipline.

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