Helping Kids Make the Grade: Academic Volunteer Opportunities

Helping Kids Make the Grade
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Let’s face it: school isn’t every kid’s favorite place. But whether a kid loves it or loathes it, academic success is still vital. Unfortunately, teachers are often spread so thin these days that it’s hard to spend ample time with each and every struggling student. That’s where you come in! If education and/or academics are a passion of yours, you can make a huge difference by volunteering your time to help kids in their quest for academic success. Here’s how:

1) Tutoring: One of the most straightforward ways to help others succeed in school is to become a tutor. Check in with local elementary schools (maybe even your own former grade school!) to see which ones have active tutoring programs. Pick a subject you enjoy, and your knowledge and enthusiasm for the material is sure to be contagious. Programs like The United Way may also point you towards terrific tutoring opportunities.

2) After-school programs: Lots of working parents = many kids on their own during after-school hours. Some research has shown that after-school programs for children and teens can enhance reading/math performance and overall academic success. By volunteering your time throughout the year, you could maximize a child’s potential! Check organizations like the After School Alliance for more details, or connect with a school in your area to see what’s cooking after class wraps each day—and how you can help.

3) Mentoring: Take tutoring a step further by becoming a mentor. Sure, you may help the child with homework, but you can become more than that—serving as a positive role model and guide. You’ll also build a special bond, as mentoring programs typically pair you up long-term with someone specific. (Say it with us: aww!) Though many mentoring programs are designed for adult volunteers, Big Brothers Big Sisters has a special teen program for high school students interested in mentoring an elementary school child.

4) Summer Camps with an Academic Focus: Summer is well on its way. Need something to do? Volunteer at a summer camp! Many camps are specifically designed to engage kids’ bodies and brains, so they don’t lose everything they learned during the school year. Try a community center like the YMCA for specific summer programs and volunteer needs.

5) Working with children with special needs: Many children have additional academic challenges such as learning disabilities. Maybe this is even an issue that’s touched you or someone you know personally. You can always specialize your volunteer time towards kids with various disabilities—either for ongoing school programs or summer camps.

6) Volunteer with a local museum, community center or art center: Are you passionate about art? Adore going to your city’s natural history or science museums? Often, these destinations sponsor summer programs and activities specifically designed to provide children with educational enrichment opportunities. Connect with the volunteer coordinator to see how you can share your passion!

7) Still at a loss? Consult your community’s volunteer website. Many cities and communities have websites dedicated to volunteer opportunities in the surrounding area. You can then search by type of opportunity, specifying academic/educational opportunities.

Have you had an experience helping kids academically? How did you find the opportunity?

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