Jan has been a volunteer at our education support program for the last two years. She offers vital support to our education coordinators, and plays an important role for children receiving and recovering from cancer treatment.
Jan shared with us what a day in the life as a volunteer looks like and why she loves it so much.
My name is Jan and I have been volunteering as a teacher with Fight Cancer Foundation’s education program at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick for almost two years.
My role as a volunteer teacher until recently, has been on a one-day-a-week basis for three to four hours. A ‘normal’ day for me begins in C2 North, the outpatient oncology unit.
On arriving, I would meet my supervisor, Trisha, and we would look at the patients who were expected that day. We would then visit the family and children in the waiting room, or once settled into their bed for the day. We usually worked separately and on a one-to-one basis with the patients, as it becomes very busy during the day with many appointments. Each week I usually teach between four to six children depending on how well they feel.
An important part of my role has been to develop a rapport with both parents and children in the hospital setting and then support them with resources to help them stay on track with their learning. I teach each child according to their ability and needs at the time with a key focus on literacy and numeracy skills.
The children need fun and engaging lessons, therefore, the use of digital resources is often used. They also enjoy playing games and using a whiteboard.
My favourite part of my job has definitely been working with individual children and seeing them enjoy the love of learning. It has also been the smiles on their faces when they see you and their keenness to learn.
Since COVID-19, I have not been able to go to the hospital. I have been continuing my role at home for the last seven weeks using virtual video sessions to teach the kids and for them to be able to continue their learning at home. During this time I have been teaching three days a week and seeing between six to nine students weekly.
The parents book in for an online learning session for an hour and I have found the students to be more focused whilst at home. The weekly sessions have also allowed the consolidation of skills taught and the planning of quality lessons to continue in a safe environment. In this way I have been able to offer ongoing support to families.
As an educator for 40 years, this role has given me so much joy and positive feedback on the importance of education in the lives of sick children. I am very privileged to be able to help these amazing children and their families.