Grebel Homework Help Continues to Foster Relationships with Youth in South Kitchener

Friday, February 14, 2020

Hand writing with pen on page

Grebel Students have supported the Homework Help initiative at Chandler Mowat Community Centre for more than five years. Currently about six Grebel students travel to Kitchener each week to tutor children in a variety of subjects at the community centre’s homework club. Ananya Xavier has been volunteering with Homework Help since her first year at university. As a third-year student majoring in Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies and Psychology, “Homework Help has allowed me to practice what we have been taught in class about children and education.” However, she noted that everyone can learn important communication skills while explaining concepts to different age groups.

Each session of the homework club begins with some catching up as the kids and volunteers get to know each other better. “By the second or third week you kind of build this relationship with the kids.” Ananya explained that part of the experience is hearing the unique stories each child shares about their life and the experiences they have had. “It’s really interesting to hear their take-aways of what’s happening in their lives.”

The elementary school students don’t always have specific homework questions. Part of the fun is creating problems to work through. The kids have an attitude of excitement towards learning and enjoy the creatively difficult questions volunteers provide. “They have an inherent desire to learn, whether it manifests in traditional education or interests like art and music,” Ananya noted. She finds it rewarding to be a part of the children’s academic journey. “In the younger ages, you can see their specific interests developing and it’s an honour to be one of those people who could be like a mentor to push them toward their passion.” Encouraging others in their academic pursuits has also made Ananya think about why she has chosen her field of study and why she chooses certain courses.

Not only is it rewarding to see how the youth are growing week to week, but the volunteers find they benefit from time away from university life. Ananya noted that this experience is a much-needed reminder that there are more experiences outside of the campus bubble. “It keeps me from being overwhelmed by university. Being able to get out of the student area, go to Kitchener, interact with adults that organize this program, and interact with kids reminds me that the world is greater than just the university.”

Homework Help has acted as a means of connecting university students and elementary students in ways that impact both parties. University students have the opportunity to serve the larger Kitchener-Waterloo community with their time and skill. The elementary students have learned from young adults that encourage them to remain passionate in their studies. In return, these children provide Grebelites with a reminder that community can be fostered outside of Grebel walls.

By Elizabeth Robertson