Mandalay is one of Ardoch’s amazing Education Volunteers and has been with us for over a year. She is currently studying nutrition at Deakin University and has a strong interest in childhood development.

Mandalay volunteers in the Frankston region, as part of our Early Language and Literacy (ELL) program. This is a comprehensive early year’s program which provides early intervention and support in areas of high need to improve vulnerable children’s school readiness. Volunteers are trained to foster children’s oral language development, pre-verbal and socialisation skills through play and early literacy and reading skills.

Every week for two hours, Mandalay uses the Ardoch ELL Resource Kit of books, props and educational toys when working with children, along with a Volunteer Activity Guide that outlines activities to develop oral language. These activities involve reading and literacy development, attention and eye contact, listening, turn taking, imitation, pretend play, pragmatic skills and receptive and expressive language

What were your reasons for originally volunteering with us?

I’ve always been really interested in developing programs for young kids regarding nutrition, particularly since they say nutrition starts in their childhood. Ardoch is a really good way to get to know what children are like and I really enjoy it. It feels like I’m making an impact.

What are your favourite activities to do with the kids?

I like reading with the children, it’s really relaxed and amusing to hear their responses. For example, one of the girls was trying to read the book, but she couldn’t so she made up a story to go along with the pictures and it was funny to hear what she came up with.

What do you have to say to others who are thinking of volunteering with Ardoch?

Definitely go for it, particularly if you’re looking for a great way to spend a couple of hours a week. It just feels so worthwhile. Honestly, just go for it, the kids love it and they’re all so happy.

It’s also a great networking opportunity. In addition to the ELL program, I’ve been asked by the teacher to present and do in class activities for the children regarding nutrition. I’ve really gotten a lot out of the experience.