Volunteer Seniors and Teenagers Can Boost Early Childhood Education Centers’ Quality and Make Them Feel Like Home
Last month Maria Stephanos from WCVB Channel 5 Boston came to the early childhood education center I work at to do a profile on Evelyn House who has been volunteering in the center’s toddler rooms through The ABCD Foster Grandparent program.
Evelyn House is an amazing women who works great with the children and families. As a volunteer through the foster grandparent program, she is able to have a different kind of bond with the children than the full time teachers. Anyone who has scene younger children and older adults interact should not be surprised by this as older adults and young children often seem to bring mutual joy to each other. Programs were nursing homes are inside or partner with preschools are becoming more popular and have shown to have positive results for both the young children and senior citizens. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/01/the-preschool-inside-a-nursing-home/424827/
Senior citizens are not the only type of volunteer who have come to our program and create unique bonds with the center’s children. Over the years, we have had many former preschool students come back to volunteer in our program when they were teenagers during the summer and after school. The teenage volunteers also make different kind of connections and the preschool children love engaging with them in everything from games of tag to braiding hair. These types of bonds can often be mutual beneficial with the teens getting work experience, community service hours which are often required by high schools, and the good feelings you get when you know you have brightened a young child’s day.
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. In a village, there are people from every age bracket. One way to incorporate that village family atmosphere in early education programs is by having seniors and teenagers as volunteers in our programs.