Meet An Education Volunteer: Emily Chan

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Every Thursday, 30-year-old Emily Chan embarks on a long trek from her home in Northcote to one of the farthest train stops on Frankston line, Kananook. Her final destination is just a few metres away from the station – Kananook Preschool, a small but warm and colourful early years centre. She spends the next four hours, as an Ardoch Education Volunteer, reading and playing with the 30 children attending the centre.

Emily first came across the volunteering opportunity at Ardoch as a fresh graduate in psychology from Monash University. “I was interested in early psychology and wanted to work with children. This seemed like a perfect opportunity,” said Emily. A year of volunteering has not reduced her enthusiasm in the least. “I want to study psychology further,” she explained, “And volunteering at a preschool has helped me apply some of my theoretical learnings.”

Frankston North is one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged suburbs of Victoria, which greatly impacts the educational achievements of the children in the neighbourhood. According to the 2017 Australian Early Development Census, nearly 41.1 percent of children in Frankston North start school developmentally vulnerable, compared to 19 percent in Victoria overall.

Kananook Preschool does critical work to try and reduce this gap. Emily’s assistance is greatly appreciated at the preschool. “Emily is calm and helpful and the children are very fond of her. Having an extra person at the Preschool to read and interact with the children in a targeted way is a great help,” says Nola Ilas, the Director of Kananook Preschool.

All of Ardoch’s Education Volunteers placed at early years services are trained in Ardoch’s Early Language and Literacy program, specially developed by Deakin University for Ardoch. Emily says the training really helped her understand how to engage children, especially those in disadvantaged communities. She arrived at the preschool armed with Ardoch’s Early Literacy and Language resource kit, which had books, oral games, puzzles and other essential learning tools to integrate learning and play.

An area where Emily has used her own training in psychology with the children is in their emotional development. “I found that the young children struggled to regulate their emotions,” she said. “I always encourage the children to verbalise their needs and emotions, whether they want to play on the equipment or with a toy. Just putting what they want into words can help them settle their emotions,” she explained.

We thank Emily for supporting the education of children in disadvantaged communities.

Ardoch is an education charity that supports children and young people in disadvantaged communities. You can help us by making a donation or signing up as a volunteer.