Published on 8 September 2015
A University of the Sunshine Coast collaboration with The Smith Family is giving Bachelor of Education students’ hands-on teaching experiences and helping boost local literacy levels.
The Smith Family is a not-for-profit organisation that works to provide educational support to children in need.
Alongside volunteers from the group, USC Primary Education students are helping provide weekly literacy support sessions for children at Nambour State School, Maroochydore State School and Burnside State School.
The ‘After School Learning Community’ aims to provide high-quality literacy experiences that help primary school students’ complete their homework with a strong focus on literacy and English competency.
Second-year Bachelor of Education (Primary) student Sharon Latimer was quick to volunteer for the program.
“My daughter was actually the recipient of an education scholarship from The Smith Family, so I thought this was the perfect way to pay it forward, as well as allow me to put my studies into action,” she said.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact that maths and science is my forte, so being part of a program with a literacy focus was definitely good for my overall professional development.”
Ms Latimer said she’d strongly recommend her peers volunteer with the program.
“The whole experience armed me with a skill set that I just couldn’t have got any other way than actually putting myself in the middle of a room full of kids.”
USC Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education Dr Anne Drabble said the program had provided a significant confidence boost to the involved primary school students as well as the undergraduate volunteers.
“We need to give our student teachers as authentic an experience as possible to support the learning undertaken in their course work,” she said.
“This program can be a real eye-opener for some of our pre-service teachers as it highlights the reality of classroom diversity and the different levels of literacy support that’s required.”
“Above all though, it’s a wonderful opportunity for education students to connect and make meaningful professional relationships with children in a fun learning environment.”
— Megan Woodward