16th March 2020
It’s a place filled with youthful enthusiasm. A place buzzing with conversation. A place of teaching and learning. A room where smiles are frequent, and engagement is high.
This is the Homework Club at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Corio.
Local Grade 5 – Year 12 students for whom English is an additional language, attend Homework Club after school once or twice a week, with the common purpose of improving their English literacy skills. Many are refugees, some born in refugee camps.
The Homework Club provides a safe space for students to achieve through positive engagement with others, and is a truly inspiring example of young people building strong relationships that will make a difference to the future of our community. The club is a local parish initiative which runs in partnership with Anglicare Victoria, Geelong Grammar and Kardinia International College. It has been operating since 2010 and still has a strong membership.
“It’s inspirational seeing the energy between the young people learning and the confidence that grows between them.” Jillian Eril Giddings is the Co-ordinator of the Homework Club. “We forget sometimes that these children are coming from traumatic circumstances, so their emotional well-being is our first priority, and the learning comes second.”
The most unique part of the club is the Mentorship element. High school students from either Geelong Grammar or Kardinia International College voluntarily donate their time to assist in teaching English through literacy games, maths homework, and meaningful friendships. One Year 11 Kardinia student mentor has been coming along for over two years to support the club and explains that it is a learning journey for them as Mentors too; “I’ve learnt so much about different learning styles. Everyone learns differently. I think that’s what I’ll take with me into my career beyond school from this experience.”
Jillian says the key to the success of Homework Club is building confidence in the students. “Children’s confidence levels grow when they form relationships, as it’s then that they are able to open up. I can see that happening each week.”
Written by Sarah Treacy, first published in www.humansingeelong.com on 11th December 2019