Serene Fong

1) What are the three key things you have learned from this service learning project?

Through teaching the children at the centre, I have learnt to be more patient. The children there may have difficulties learning, thus I had to patiently explain to them the concepts repeatedly. Even then, sometimes they still do not understand. Thus, I had to change the way I explained and give them simple examples that they would be able to relate to and understand.
I have also learnt how to communicate better with others, both with the children and other volunteers. Firstly, I had to communicate with children in a way that they would understand. This means that I should not use very complicated words when explaining to them the concepts so that they would be able to understand what I am teaching them. Also, I had to communicate in a tone that shows some sort of authority but at the same time a tone that tells them I am their friend. This is so that they will be more comfortable with me and be more willing to listen when I am teaching them. In addition,  they will be more open with me and tell me some problems they are having, be it in their studies or in their lives.
I have also learnt how to prepare activities for children. I learnt that the children prefer to be engaged in hands-on activities rather than listening to explanations. However, the entire activity cannot be solely about having one hands-on activity as they can become bored rather easily. Hence, we have to be prepared to give them multiple hands-on acitivites to hold their attention.

2) What are the two challenges you faced during this service learning project?

One of the challenges I faced was how to hold the children's attention. The children there are all good friends and this poses as a distraction during tuition as they may not want to listen. Hence, we have to remind them to pay attention and find ways to keep their attention.  For example, after giving them a few hard questions, I have to give them a few easier questions or even play with them short games such as hangman.
Another challenge that I faced was that the children did not believe in themselves and just assume that they do not understand the things being taught. This causes them to be reluctant in doing their work. Hence, I had to constantly motivate and slowly explain to them the concepts so that they will slowly understand and come to believe in themselves that they can actually do the work given.

3) If you were to do this project again, what are the two things you would do differently?

Firstly, I would try to be more committed in regularly going to TYA. For example, I would try to organise my time better so as to make time to go to TYA and tutor the children there.
Also, I would try to be more friendly and outgoing with the children. Generally, I do not like to go up and talk to people. Hence, despite being a volunteer there for quite sometime, I only know a few of the children well. Thus, I would try to be more outgoing and take the initiative to talk to the children and ask them able their lives so as to get to know them better.

4) How would you assess the success of this project?

From a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), I would give this project a rating of 8. Through this project, we have been able to make an impact on the lives of the children there and help them to become better people. Also, we ourselves have also learnt new things about ourselves which would help us in our daily lives as well. For example, we have learnt to communicate better. However, despite this,  I feel that more could have been done to help the children. Organising the activities at Pioneer Primary was a once off thing and also, there were very few students that attended that day. Hence, only a handful of students benefitted from those activities planned that day. Hence, next time, we could plan activities for the children more often and also, ensure that there would be more students around to participate in those activities so as to make it more beneficial for the children.  

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