I have Recently Volunteered

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I have recently volunteered my services helping at the Baby Gator Daycare. Serving the Baby Gator Daycare at Diamond Village helped me see and experience what I had been studying in the Human Growth and Development course (EDF 3110) and actually apply what I had learned in the class. Personally, I decided to volunteer at the Baby Gator Daycare at the Diamond Village location with preschoolers age three because I believed that it would have been the perfect opportunity for me to interact with children transitioning from infancy to toddlerhood and learn first-hand about early childhood development.

By volunteering at the Baby Gator Center I was able to observe the theories that had been taught in the classroom and learn common behavioral, cognitive, and physical aspects of human development found in toddlers.
The Baby Gator Daycare which is located at Diamond Village serves children ages 3 to 5 years-old. This center helps children's growth by offering a loving, stimulating and healthy environment.

As in Piagetian classrooms, children at Baby Gator were encouraged to discover for themselves through spontaneous interaction with the environment. The teacher provided a rich variety of activities designed to promote exploration, including art, puzzles, table games, books and building blocks. Children behavior is highly conditioned by their surrounding environment, therefore thanks to the Baby Gator center's warm environment and the wide curriculum that they offer, children's behavioral, cognitive, physical and social development is promoted.

I choose to serve Baby Gator because I wanted to actually help the children explore and grow, and make a positive impact in their life. My role and duties at Baby Gator where pretty simple. I was scheduled to go to the center every Thursday from 3pm to 5 pm. Every week I had to volunteer in the same room, with the same kids, and thanks to this I was able to see some of the changes and improvements in the children's behavioral and cognitive aspects.

On my first day, when I first entered the classroom, all the kids were sleeping but, as soon as they woke up I immediately found out that each kid was different and had his own way of welcoming me. Some kids seemed very excited to see me and my presence made them very curious. These kids accepted me instantly and as soon as they found that that I was going to spend some time with them they could not stop asking me to play with them. Others were more shy and it took some more time for them to welcome me and tell me their names.

Since my schedule was from 3pm to 5pm, and the kids would wake up from their nap at 3pm, I would always try to get there a bit earlier so that I could observe how the children would respond when they had to wake up from their daily afternoon naps. Every day a different kid had the responsibility to turn on the light and tell everyone to wake up. I found that very sweet and a nice way to teach the kids to take care of their mates and become more autonomous. While for some toddlers waking up was easy and meant snack time, for others waking up was really difficult.

Just like in Erickson's theory Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt, I found that Baby Gator did an amazing job teaching the kids that once they had woken up they had to clean up their bedsheets, put away their mattresses and go use the restroom. By using the toilet, cleaning up for themselves, or putting away their mattresses, they meet their assertions of independence with tolerance and understanding (Berk number). Overall, I found that Baby Gator did an amazing job teaching the kids autonomy by making them clean up their bedsheets, put away their mattresses and go use the restroom once they had woken up.

After cleaning up their bedsheets and mattresses, all the kids would grab a book and sit on the carpet while my supervisor and I would prepare their snacks. Before snack time, the kids had been taught to take turns to go to the bathroom and wash their hands. The efforts of Baby Gator to give the kids a healthy and balanced diet can be seen in the snacks that they provide them. Most of the time the snacks would consist of crackers and cheese, crackers and fruits or vegetables. Making sure that all the kids would intake the right amount of nutrients by offering healthy foods such as celery apples, crackers and cheese, and not junk foods such as donuts and candies, was a good way to increase children's liking for those healthy foods.

(Berk 219) Even though most of the kids would eat all their snacks and even ask for more, some children were picky eaters or were not hungry and would refuse to eat the snacks given. Preschoolers' appetites decline because their growth has slowed. Though they eat less, preschoolers require a high-quality diet, including the same nutrients adults need, but in smaller quantities (Berk 219). I remember my supervisor telling me that Camila, one of the kids, was a very picky eater. After a month volunteering at Baby Gator, my supervisor and I noticed that when Camila would eat more, she would be more active and more talkative while when she would eat less, she would be more tired and inattentive.

To encourage Camila eating habits, we would repeatedly expose her to new foods and support her by saying things like, I know you can finish your snack!. Soon Camila started to eat her snacks and was eating more. Because preschoolers are still developing standards of excellence and conduct, they depend on the messages of parents, teachers, and others who matter to them (Berk 262). Therefore, by encouraging Camila's eating with positive words, Camila's eating habits improved. Overall, snack time was a joyful time where kids would sit down and share their thoughts and feelings with their mates.

Most of the 3 year olds spoke very clearly, while Andrea and July, two foreigners from Turkey and Israel respectively, would have more difficulty talking and, instead of using words, they would sometimes use sounds. Andrea and July recently moved from their home country and were learning English as their second language after having acquired their first. When preschool children from immigrant families acquire a second language, after already speaking the language of their cultural heritage, the time required to master the second language to the level of native-speaking age mates varies greatly, from 1 to 5 or more years.

(Berk 323) Since Influential factors such as child motivation, quality of communication and of literacy experiences in languages at home and at school are influential factors in the amount of time a kid takes to learn a new language, to promote Andrea's and Camila's acquisition of English, the teacher would try to make some allotted time just for them by reading them a book and going over the meaning of all the tougher words.

Around 4pm, when all the kids had finished their snacks and had washed their hands, my supervisor had some kind of activity ready for them. Sometimes the activity would consist of singing songs, drawing with crayons or going outside to play. Playing with the children and observing them draw and color, made me more aware of their fine-motor skills. When I would observe the kids drawing, they would often draw themselves as circular shapes with lines attached to it; therefore, drawing tadpole images. As stated in the book, fine-motor and cognitive limitations lead the preschooler to reduce the figure to the simplest form that still looks human: the universal Tadpole image, a circular shape with lines attached (Berk 224).

When we would play outside, they would often pretend to be a big family, with a girl being the mom, a boy being the dad and everyone else being the children. By labeling a girl as the mom and a boy as the dad, Gender Schema Theory emerges. As soon as preschoolers can label their own gender, they select gender schemas consistent with it and apply those categories to themselves. Their self-perceptions then become gender-typed and serve as additional schemas that children use to process information and guide their own behavior (Berk 279).

Watching the kids engage in make-believe play reminded me of when, at their same age, I would play the same game with my friends. As they assign roles and negotiate make-believe plans such as: Youpretend to bethe mom, I'llbe the dad. In communicating about pretend, children think about their own and others' fanciful representations”evidence that they have begun to reason about people's mental activities. (Berk 228).

By Volunteering at Baby Gator I was able to apply concepts learned in class to real life. I found that elements of both Piaget's and Vygotsky's theory were present at Baby Gator.

As in Piagetian classrooms, children at Baby Gator were encouraged to discover for themselves through spontaneous interaction with the environment; while as stated by Vygotsky's theory, I found that since all kids are different and develop at their own time, for the curriculum to be developmentally appropriate, the teacher planned activities that encompassed not only what the children were capable of doing on their own but what they could learn with the help of others. I am very happy about what I have learned and achieved in the past 7 weeks. Thanks to this experience I was able to see how children differ in their nutritional habits and motor skills development, as well as see Piaget and Vygotsky's theories in real life situations.

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I Have Recently Volunteered. (2019, May 06). Retrieved July 21, 2024 , from

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