Partners In Actions – ELP
Posted by Hsin Ee Chia on September 3, 2018
We are from Prison Fellowship Singapore (PFS), a Christian voluntary welfare organisation that ministers to men and women in Singapore’s prison system (inmates and ex-offenders) and their families. We run a weekly support group called Care Club for children and youth aged 6-16 who have a parent or close family member who is currently incarcerated or recently released from prison.
At Care Club we provide one-to- one tuition and other activities for the children every Saturday morning. However, even with teaching by our dedicated volunteers, many of the children still struggle with basic concepts. Some cannot read and fail their exams in primary 1. Coming from a disadvantaged family background, our children do not have the same learning opportunities as their peers. Their self-esteem is affected at an early age due to their inability to catch up in school.
We hoped to help the children and caregivers overcome these obstacles, give them a strong foundation and interest in learning, and help them reach their fullest potential. We did not have the professional expertise and resources in early childhood education because we rely on volunteers who are usually not trained in this. Hence we were very excited and grateful when EDIS Cares proposed to run the Early Learning Programme (ELP) at PFS Care Club.
In 2017, we had 7 children aged 6-10 attending the ELP at Care Club. The programme is very structured and we have received a lot of support from EDIS staff and the ELP Literacy Therapist. Training and resource materials were provided for our volunteers. The ELP Literacy Therapist provided continuous feedback and support by looking through the volunteers’ lesson plans every week and coming down to our centre to observe the sessions and troubleshoot problems.
Our children enjoy the programme very much and there has also been noticeable improvement in their learning and positive feedback from their caregivers and teachers. Children who are normally very hyperactive during other programmes are able to sit down and focus for the one-hour ELP time slot. One caregiver reported that “there is a difference in my child’s pronunciation and choice of words.”
There was one child who had already started attending Primary 1 but whom we placed in ELP because she was unable to read. She received these comments from her form teacher in her report book: “She has made great progress across the curriculum since the beginning of the school year. I am so proud of her progress and she continues to have this positive outlook towards education!”
Volunteers also have positive feedback about the programme. One said that she “rejoiced to see the child’s reading skills improve after every session.” They also felt well supported with the resources, training and help with the lesson plans.
In summary, the ELP has been a great benefit for our young children of preschool standard of learning. It has provided the expertise and resources that we previously did not have access to to help these children. The children are able to prepare for mainstream education, understand that learning can be made interesting and enjoyable, and recognise the value of acquiring knowledge. Our children’s self-esteem and confidence have also increased as the ELP has helped to bridge the gap between them and their peers. We hope that the ELP can be continued for subsequent years at PFS in order to benefit more of the children attending Care Club.
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