Parent Volunteers Important To Early Childhood Education

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Education Officer, Wendy Small, addressing the volunteers and other officials ar the workshop. (Barbados Advocate)

Parents who volunteer their services to schools across Barbados, are important to the effective learning of students at nursery, infant and reception levels.

This was pointed out today to over 50 volunteers who attended a workshop hosted by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School.

Education Officer with responsibility for the Parent Volunteer Support Programme, Wendy Small told them theirs was "a supportive role to the nursery class teacher in promoting appropriate practices for early childhood education".

She said: "You encourage good habits and values and assist the teacher with compiling portfolios for the children’s assessment… You also interact with the children, assist class teachers with indoor and outdoor activities, with feeding, toileting and dressing of students.

"As a parent volunteer, you support the early learning activities of children and we want to involve parents as partners in children’s learning and development and to encourage higher levels of community involvement."

While explaining the rationale of the workshop, Mrs. Small said: "The goal of the Parent Volunteer Support programme is to enable primary school principals, teachers and parents to work in partnership in order to use all available resources, which would empower each child to develop his or her early potential to become??a lifelong learner.

"The programme is designed to secure the assistance of parents/guardians of a pupil of the school on a voluntary basis in order to facilitate an appropriate nursery programme in public infant and primary schools as well as schools with special education programmes."

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A section of the PVSP parents who turned out to learn more about the voluntary work they have undertaken. (Barbados Advocate)

Those present were also informed about the benefits to be derived from the programme with Mrs. Small indicating that these included to access all the training available through the Education Ministry; exposure to models of appropriate practices in the school environment and the ability to seek full time employment. "It [the programme] gives you a chance to enhance your own parenting skills via training," she stressed.

It was noted too, that several persons had passed through the programme and had gone on to pursue studies at the hotel school or the University of the West Indies, some of whom were in teaching, the hospitality sector or the police force. "So people come to the programme and they upgrade their CXCs and they go on to find employment in the private and the public sector," said Mrs. Small.????

According to the Education Officer, parent volunteers are brought on by the Principal, the management team and the teachers of nursery, reception class or special school who look for a parent whom they deem appropriate.

Mrs. Small explained: "They are usually selected in collaboration with the Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) and the PTA at the national level. Parents must stay at least four years in the programme and their time is flexible as arranged with the principal of the school "if during that time they find a permanent job they are free to go.??

Under the programme, arents are given a stipend a week, should work for at least ten hours during that week and must honour the arrangements made with the Principal with regards to their attendance."

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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