Susan Quarry’s Story as a Volunteer Coach

Every child is unique and special. When they are young, they are just like sponges soaking up all the lessons we can teach them. Building a strong foundation for learning really does start from birth. The gift of reading is such a powerful tool.

I have always been passionate about supporting children and inspiring them to be all they can be. I’ve enjoyed working with children in a variety of ways all my life. I was reviewing a grant application as a volunteer with the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation when I first heard about Strong Start’s Letters, Sounds and WordsTM program.

I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this program and haven’t looked back since. For nine years, I’ve had the privilege of working in three different schools and my experiences have been a true joy.

The children really enjoy the one-on-one attention, playing the literacy games– they have so much fun, they don’t realize how much they are learning from week-to-week. With consistent time spent, it is rewarding to see how quickly their skills improve.

When a child takes the lead in a game like ‘Simon Says’ or is the caller in ‘Alphabet Bingo’, they not only practice their literacy skills but also gain confidence and self-esteem. This helps encourage a child to say ‘I can’ when it comes to learning tasks.

One young boy had only been speaking English for a year when he started the program. He was shy and reluctant to participate in the activities, but slowly realized it was fun. By the third session, he would smile and come running when he saw me at his classroom door. He really benefited from the program, and by the end of the 10-weeks, he was much more confident. Every time he saw me in the school, he always waved hello. That meant so much to me.

You might not think that in such a short time you could have such a positive impact on a learner’s life, but I can say for a fact that you do. What a difference can be made with 10-weeks of literacy fun and games! I encourage anyone who enjoys being with young learners to get involved. I keep thinking if one more child has the opportunity to be involved in this wonderful program, one more child has a chance to succeed.