This summer, I had the opportunity to teach and assist in two of the classes with four to five year-olds at Helping Hands Nursery and Academy in Saratoga. At Helping Hands, each class has approximately 10 students, who are a mix of typically developing and special education students. Schools, in general, have faced many difficulties with the Covid-19 pandemic, and donating resources and volunteering at Helping Hands was a fulfilling way to give back. Thanks to the generosity of the CSGC and the Earle/Mendillo grant, I was able to address some of the most pressing needs for the Helping Hands School by purchasing three iPads as well as a variety of other math learning manipulatives, which will benefit the program and students for years to come.
For my project, I taught a kindergarten readiness program for seven hours a week during the six weeks of the Helping Hands Summer Program. I first developed a curriculum with counting, addition, subtraction, shapes, and measurement. Then, during the program, I alternated between the two classes for four days a week and brought a couple of new math manipulatives for each day’s learning objective. All of the manipulatives I brought were hands-on, such as items kids could stack, take apart, and move around. Additionally, the iPads I bought replaced older devices and enabled students of different abilities to learn through interactive apps.
While implementing my math program and helping around the classroom, I slowly developed better patience and communication with the kids. In addition, I witnessed the potential of some bright members of our next generation, despite their different abilities, and I realized the importance of nurturing these children. I would once again like to thank the CSGC and the Earle/Mendillo grant for funding my project, which not only made a positive impact on many children but also helped me develop as a person.
-Forrest Gao ‘23