(rev Oct 16, 2013)
We’re glad you are interested in volunteering. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are with us.
Be “Unplugged.” Turn off/silence all electronic devices when you arrive. You won’t be busy every minute, but we want the kids to know that you are there for them and engaged and not texting a classmate.
Help kids with the activity of the week, but allow them to do the work. The job they do will be messier than you would have done, but we are trying to build skills, independent thinking, and confidence.
Keep everybody safe. Kids will be kids, which means they will gravitate to doing things your parents might tell you not to do like run in the street, poke each other with sticks, or climb small trees that couldn’t possibly support you. Just say no.
Give kids the attention they crave. The kids come to the library for the books, snacks, and to see their friends, but they also come because the volunteers involved show an interest in them. We use that to bond with the kids, but also to get them to work on skills they will need to succeed in life. Many of our kids are performing below grade level and could really use your help improving their math skills, spelling and reading. What can you do?
v Ask a child to read to you, or read with the child (sometimes it will encourage them if you read every other page so it isn’t all struggle).
v Read aloud to a child and ask questions such as, what do you think will happen next? Why do you think she did that?
v Grab a whiteboard and one of our dictionaries and ask kids to spell words. Then switch roles.
v Write out math problems or drill kids on things like multiplication tables. Believe it or not, because you’re giving them attention most of the kids are eager to do this.
v Grab a boardgame off the shelf and invite kids to play. This is a fun way to teach understanding directions, rule following and fair play.
v Do something physical. We have a bocce game and a basketball hoop, jump ropes , and Frisbees.
Mediate as needed. Some kids have issues getting along with other people. When you see behavior that is inappropriate explain that we don’t do this at the library. Girls of a certain age can be catty. Remind them that we don’t allow behavior that hurts anyone’s feelings.
Be a role model. Perhaps the most important thing you will do during your time at the library is act as a role model to kids who need encouragement and additional skills to succeed. If you are attentive, interactive and caring they will want to grow up to be just like you. Feel free to talk to them about school, ask them how they’re doing, and show them how important school is to your own future plans.
Enjoy yourself. Thank you for all you do to help us and the kids of our neighborhood.