The Joy of Volunteering with Young Children

 Marie and friendMany Kendal at Oberlin residents enjoy volunteering in the Kendal Early Learning Center. Opportunities for intergenerational activity are commonplace in our community. Below, Marie writes about the things she loves best when she volunteers with the young children. 

A teacher held up a one gallon white plastic milk carton, asking what it could be used to make. Many little voices responded. The smallest chid thought for a minute and then said:”an air plane”. When pressed as to which part of the plane, after a long pause, he said:” the white part”.

“You’re late, Marie! We’ve already sung ‘Shake your sillies out.'”

“Will you be a pumpkin for Halloween?”

“It’s Marie’s birthday. How old do you think she is?” says a teacher. Several children call out 4 or 5, one year older than they are. One of them, the littlest, says “84.”

“You are so silly, Marie!”

After I had my long hair cut, one child said: “Who are you?” Another said: “If you had your hair cut, why is there still some on your head?”And another: “Will it all go white now?”

These are some of the comments I hear when I volunteer on Fridays.

Kendal at Oberlin’s Early Learning Center was one of the reasons I chose to live here. I wanted to have all ages around me. I volunteered early on and have had fun there ever since.

Ours is an excellent pre-school! The children range in age from 2 – 5. The teachers are caring, creative, patient, attentive, responsive, disciplined, directive when necessary and professional. They follow the Creative Curriculum.

Marie and friends play togetherThe large classroom is divided into areas: music, art, dramatic play, blocks, writing, painting, sensory table, water table, science, books, puzzles and whatever is topical or takes our fancy. I recently did a survey, asking each child which area is his or her favorite. The answers were all over the board. One child said:”Everything!”

Fellow residents ask me what I do during my weekly visits. Anything that needs doing! Mending torn books, cutting out pictures for lamination, making trifle, mopping up messes etc. I save envelopes for the writing center, save the inside of toilet rolls for our gerbils to chomp, and bring little stickers, shapes to trace and recyclables for art. I’ve recently taken to bringing a safe kitchen implement for the children to identify, pass around and hold.

But most of the time I play! I love how little one’s minds work and the non-judgmental way they look at the world. I love their honesty. And  I love their love!

What a wonderful opportunity!

Read more about our intergenerational community here.