Janet lives in the community and her children attended Manchester Public School several years ago. Janet was working at the school part time as an Educational Assistant working with special needs children, when the Special Education Teacher encouraged her to take the Strong Start® training. The Strong Start® program was just being introduced at Manchester and she became one of its Coaches. Her reaction to the Program was,
“This is GOLD – the one-on-one experience with our children”.
Janet soon became a full time E.A. but enjoyed Strong Start® so much that she continues to co-ordinate the Strong Start® program at Manchester in her spare time. Everyday she thinks,
“How lucky we are to have this resource—this wonderful gift of so many extra hours of help for the children. The children really enjoy the time with the volunteer and if some of the Grade 4, 5 and 6 children I work with as an Educational Assistant were in this program earlier, perhaps they wouldn’t be in a special needs situation today.”
Janet delights in the joy of success the children feel when they can read a story to their classmates.
“I’m just as proud as they are”.
For Janet, the Strong Start® program is so successful because of its design. It’s easy for the volunteers to implement and the components of the games and exercises hold the child’s attention.
“The children are just in the moment of having fun with the games. They don’t realize, perhaps until after they have finished the program, that they learned something. They just had fun – it wasn’t work to them.”
For Janet, and the other volunteers, there is great satisfaction when
“the light goes on’ – when the child ‘connects the dots’ and is able to put the letters and sounds together to form words and the words together to form a sentence.”
The reaction of the volunteers is,
“Wow! Am I ever glad I hung in there.”
Teachers at Manchester have noticed a difference. For them, the children who have participated in Strong Start® have gone beyond mastering Letters, Sounds and Words. The teachers report a noticeable boost in the child’s self-confidence, leading to improved performance in other areas of academic and social development.