Synergy offers a monthly program, Homework Helpers, designed to foster a positive attitude towards formal education. Offered to students in grades 4 through 12, Homework Helpers provides free tutoring and academic support once per month for two hours, held at the Centre for Community Leadership in Chestermere. The program is run by an experienced tutor, as well as many volunteer tutors including both adults and older students. The focus is on developing problem solving skills, using an adaptive learning model, and emphasizing fundamentals. Wellness education techniques are used to reduce test anxiety, increase academic self-confidence and maintain a positive attitude towards education.
Since its inception, Homework Helpers has continued to grow in terms of participants and volunteer tutors. The requests from community members (both youth and parents) is for Homework Helpers to be a weekly program. Students who cannot make it to every session constantly request the resources that are available at Homework Helpers (e.g. print and online). For everyone (students and tutors) the goal is to move from simply following the school curriculum, offering short-term homework help and test preparation (i.e. shadow education) to developing their own curricular/assessment tools, comprehensive list of educational resources, and long-term scholarly skills (learning centre approach).
Should Synergy receive the requested funding for the Homework Helpers program, we would like to offer the program on a weekly basis throughout the 2018/2019 school year, rather than monthly. We would also like to host additional sessions within local schools, to further increase the availability and accessibility of the program to those who cannot attend regular sessions at the Centre for Community Leadership.
Who Will it Benefit?
Almost 1/3 of the populace in our service area are under the age of 20 years and nearly the same percentage speak English as a second language. Outside of traditional sports, scouting and cadets, and dance, there are few organized activities for youth and other than the Stepping Stones to Mental Health program in our schools, little in the way of services for young people who are experiencing challenges. Synergy offers a continuum of programs that provide guidance, mentorship and unique experiences for youth who don’t necessarily fit the mold of the community’s traditional programs offerings. Our programs are highly inclusive with a diverse membership reflecting every socio-economic level, a high percentage of ESL participants, many LGBTQ+ youth, as well as, many who are struggling with school, peer relationships, self-worth and/or family issues.
Currently, in the monthly program, there are at least twenty youth seeking homework help and another twenty who contact the coordinator for homework resources and referrals. A critical issue in our service area is the lack of accessibility, resources and services in Chestermere and South East Rocky View County. The fact that there is no public transportation within the City of Chestermere and to/from Calgary only exacerbates the problem. Our facility and programs allow for lower income students and families in need to access affordable educational resources and support. The requested funding for Homework Helpers would allow Synergy to meet the increasing demand for educational support, by offering the program weekly throughout the 2018/2019 school year to accommodate more youth’s schedules and allow those who would benefit from extra sessions more than double the tutoring time.
Homework Helpers not only benefits the students being tutored, but also the older student tutors and volunteers who assist with the program. By having students teach Homework Helpers lessons themselves, their own education and well-being is positively affected, and they are also provided the opportunity to expand their educational network as many of them prepare for post-secondary education. Homework Helpers allows those students to diversify their volunteer skill set and connect them even more so to the community.