I have been a SMART volunteer for 15 years. I still love it! When I come back to my school, some of my kids come and hug me. When they do this, I know that I have done something right. I am strict and do not put up with goofing around, nevertheless they get excited to see me. I love the whole experience. I love reading to and with them, looking at the pictures, and engaging in discussions with the children.
One thing that I find sad is that when they look at the pictures, some kids cannot identify the animals because they have never been to the zoo or a farm. They have never seen animals in real life. I just want to take them to the zoo!
One thing that really bothers me about some books is the poor grammar. Some books have horrible English, such as “me” instead of “I”. I look for the errors while reading with the children, and talk with them about how it should be. We correct obvious errors as we read. One child I read to would get so excited when he found the errors on his own! I turn the poor grammar into a lesson for the children.
Another child, a 2nd grader, wanted to be a football player. He really wanted to read a football book. He did not want to read anything unless it was a football book. Mary, the site coordinator, went out and found a football book. He wouldn’t put it down! All of a sudden, he could read. All because it was a book about something he was interested in.
Some children want to sit down and read, but they do not even know the letters, or they cannot see because they need glasses. This is such a challenge. I don’t know how teachers do it.
SMART is such a good program. I read to four kids. Since I live 30 minutes away I prefer to stay and read longer. I love to read, sing, and talk with the children. I really enjoy it. I always look forward to my volunteer time.