Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reflections for 2006

The kidsREAD programme is taking a break until school reopens in 2007. It is timely to reflect on what has transpired and for me to examine how kidsREACH has touched the lives of those in my class.

Our objective has been to inculcate in the children under our care a lifelong love for reading. The non-academic nature of kidsREAD has made it less stressful for the children and so far the general enthusiasm level of the children in my class has been all right. I am fortunate in that my class is populated by well behaved, bright and promising children.

In terms of improvement, we have not measured in a very scientific basis, the incremental levels of interest or reading proficiency. Anecdotally, I have noted in the case of one or two children who were weaker that at least they were more enthusiatic about wanting to read when it came to their turn.

Those children who were already strong in reading impressed me with some of them reading very well for their age. The small class size of 9 children and 2 volunteers meant that my class generally had a ratio of 1:4.5 when both myself and K were around. I aim to increase this ratio to 1:3.5 by trying to invite more potential volunteers to try out kidsREAD in my class. So far, I have some success as a JC student and some of my toastmasters acquaintances have expressed in interest in the program. Of course, I have a vested interest in that each new volunteer to my class also frees me up to look more into volunteer development and skills enhancement as I empower more volunteers to be trained in reading and story-telling skills. The capacity of our kidsREAD classes is largely dependent on the breadth and depth of our volunteer base.

Some ideas that I am mulling over include more regular kidsREAD volunteer sharing and training. A book donation drive is also on the cards as I think it will be something useful to help boost up the book resources for our kidsREAD programme without having to strain CDAC's budget. I for one have many children's books in my cupboard that I have hardly touched since I became an adult. :-) The recent CDAC kidsREAD volunteers training also generated a number of interest ideas for us to take forward in 2007.

kidsREAD has allowed me to pour a bit of myself into our future: the children! I am very grateful to CDAC for this opportunity to practice my toastmasters skills to read and communicate with children. The potential in us to touch lives for the better is tremendous, I am starting to realise the power of giving and it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

Here is a collage of some of the kidsREAD images that will stay in my memories for eternity.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

CDAC kidsREAD Volunteers Training

20-odd volunteers from CDAC's kidsREAD programme converged on the basement of the National Library on 3 December 2006 @ B1 Multi-Purpose Room along Victoria Street on an early Sunday morning to learn and share experiences about their kidsREAD volunteer journey.

It was a learning journey for myself too although I was also the trainer for this event! :-)

I learnt that within the CDAC family, we have kidsREAD programmes running at five locations spread out in the student service centres located at Jurong, Redhill, Tampines, Woodlands, Punggol.

Being the trainer, I was mortified when my alarm clock failed to buzz me at 7.00 a.m. and I ended up waking up at 8.33 a.m. and needing to be at Victoria Street by 9.00 a.m.! Fortunately, my national service experience helped me wash up, grab my gear and call the cab all the same time and the relatively clear roads allowed me to reach NLB at 9.10 a.m. - phew! - only ten minutes late. There were still some volunteers who had not arrived yet so my tardiness was not overly evident...Lesson learnt though.. always set 2 alarms for important events when one is the trainer or facilitator. It's not too bad to be late as a participant but a definite no-no for a trainer.

I covered the following areas in the training from around 9.20 am plus till 12 pm.

- Icebreakers
- KidsREAD Jurong SSC Experience Sharing
- KidsREAD fundamental skills
- Discussion and feedback from kidsREAD volunteers/HQ staff
- Ideas Generation – Going forward

We had a good mix of volunteers from the different centres and we got warmed up by introducing ourselves by writing our names / centres / 3 things about ourselves on post-it pads and then got to know three other persons and exchanged tags with them. I got the participants to then introduce the person whose last tag they had and I think it got the crowd going a bit.

The presentation proper was divided into 3 major segments. Firstly, I shared with the participants what I learnt from my Jurong SSC experiences. Secondly, after a break, I leveraged on my toastmasters experience to share about fundamental kidsREAD skills in story reading and story telling. :-) Yes, there is a difference between the two. We wrapped up the session by breaking into 4 groups and brainstormed about:

- Things you like about kidsREAD (Which we should reinforce)
- Things you think works for your centre/class (Which we should share with each other)
- Things that help you achieve objectives (Which we could share with each other)
- Things that hinder you (Which we would need to avoid / mitigate)
- Ideas / suggestions / complaints

Overall it was an interesting session as I learnt more about the other kidsREAD centres within CDAC and got to make contacts with like-minded volunteers.

I will be compiling and submitting the points raised by all the groups as well as sending a report on what is the action plan based on a SWOT analysis of the ideas and suggestions raised.

Onward to kidsREAD 2007!