According to the National Center of Adult Literacy, 40 million adults in the U.S. read and write at or below the 5th-grade level. Not only is reading an obstacle, children are suffering from below average scores in science and math. Due to lack of involvement from some parents and limited resources in the education system, children do not get the help they need to succeed in these areas. Retirement offers the opportunity for seniors to invest time volunteering at a school. This may seem like an overwhelming commitment, but what better way to spend retirement than to help reshape a child’s future. Seniors can play an integral role by volunteering to tutor struggling students.

How To Become A Volunteer

Volunteer qualifications depend on a state’s requirement and local school district procedures. A senior may be required to fill out a disclosure application and pass a criminal records check. Once approved, the next step may include a volunteer orientation with the school where a representative covers volunteer schedules and school rules. The volunteer registration process will need to be repeated every 6-months to a year.

Public locations such as a school library or a section in a teacher’s classroom would be assigned as the designated tutoring space. During this time, seniors will have the opportunity to review lessons, help a student complete an assignment, or assist students with reading. The Pew Charitable Trusts conducted a study proving that increased family engagement in educational programs is linked with increases in child reading achievement and other academic successes. Some students do not have stability in their home that will allow them to experience family engagement. As a consistent volunteer, seniors can be seen as the stable, encouraging, and dependable role model in a student’s life.

Various Education Approaches

Technology can be seen as a deterrent in connecting with the youth today. Students mostly spend their free time with bowed heads and eyes glued to phone screens. Texting all day long and posting selfies on social media does not help their test scores. However, seniors should try not to see technology as an enemy, but are encouraged to take advantage of digital tools as a way to connect with today’s youth. Using school approved technology applications, consider watching a video showing the metamorphosis of a tadpole into a frog. Or, read an online article showcasing the benefits drones are having on rebuilding a community after a flood.  

If you want to pursue a hands-on approach to learning, the library is a great resource. Encourage a student to visit the school library and research information about a specific area in science they may have trouble grasping such as astronomy. Review books together on various temperatures and atmospheres found on each planet in the solar system. Encourage the student to check out a book and return it to the library in a timely manner, teaching and encouraging responsibility.

Benefits of Volunteering

A 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer due to a selfless ambition of helping others. Working with this digital generation can allow seniors to also learn new applications and software; learning new skills can enhance memory. By volunteering and spending time talking with students, seniors will contribute to the betterment of a person’s life and contribute to their communication growth. Volunteers may not limit themselves to reading, science or math tutoring, but can help with the arts. Whatever volunteer role a senior chooses, the main goal is to participate as a contributing member of the education system and the future of our nation.