When you decide you want to volunteer with kids, we know there are lots of options in and around Charlottesville. Why choose Play Partners over something else? Play Partners teachings preschool-age kids literacy skills, active listening and focus through play and story-telling together. We're a little biased, but we think it's the best volunteer gig in town. Here's ten reasons why volunteering with Play Partners is an experience you'll love.
10. Two is better than one
At Play Partners, you'll never be left on your own to figure things out. You will always be paired with a more experienced volunteer to guide you through the day. "This is my first year. I feel like I had a huge learning curve, but I feel better at the end than I did at the beginning, thanks to my [volunteer partner]," said one Play Partners volunteer.
9. Following the children's lead
While the Play Partners staff will always give you lots of ideas for leading a session, there is also room to bring your own ideas and follow the children's interests. "It's fun to hear children use words like 'dozing,' which is certainly learned from a book we had read," said a Play Partner volunteer.
8. On the school schedule
You'll always have summer and holidays off, which is perfect for a parent with kids in school or college.
7. Substitutes available
If you go on vacation, have surgery, or just don't feel well, there are substitutes available to cover for you.
6. Manageable time commitment
A typical Play Partners session is an hour long, once a week. Add in another thirty minutes to an hour for planning and preparation, and you're donating about two hours a week of your time to preschoolers in Charlottesville.
Those small hours add up. Last year, Play Partners' 26 volunteers donated over 1,059 hours to ReadyKids.
5. Hilarious, adorable kids
You get to spend time with, and build relationships with, sweet, funny, creative 3 to 5-year-olds in family and professional day care centers who are at risk of falling behind their peers in school. "It is obvious these 4-year-olds do not have the vocabulary and number skills of my 4-year-old granddaughter," said one Play Partners volunteer. "Our sessions help to make up the inequality." Last year, Play Partners served over 100 children at eight child care providers around Charlottesville.
4. Awesome volunteer management staff
Christy and Ali, the Play Partners volunteer management staff, are nurturing and caring. They will answer any questions you have, support and guide you through each week. "Everyone at ReadyKids is so appreciative and pamper us!" said one Play Partner volunteer. "The art supply closet was wonderfully stocked with essentials and new fun things to try."
3. Free trainings
The Play Partners program provides structured, ongoing trainings including how to support reading development, building brains, teaching movement activities, and helping children through transitions.
2. Book love
You're helping kids to learn to love books, and to build their own home library. Each month, each kid in the classroom you work with will get to take home a copy of the book you taught them that month. Last year, the Play Partners program gave away 1,027 books.
1. Building a new generation
Play Partners builds literacy skills in kids. "One of the things I love about Play Partners is that we are trying to make an impact on the kids while they are still young," said Ali Davidson, Play Partners Assistant. "We are trying to catch these kids before the gap widens and they head down a path that is irreversible." 86% of children who participate in the Play Partners program demonstrate post-test emergent literacy skills as evidenced by scoring at or above age level for vocabulary. Literacy skills are tied to a longer, healthier life. In addition, poor reading skills are linked to teen pregnancy, substance abuse, incarceration, and welfare dependence. Helping to bridge the achievement gap to children arrive at school at the same level as their peers has a lifelong impact.