More than ever, children in Tulare County are in need of support with their schoolwork. Since the sudden transition to distanced learning, many parents have felt overwhelmed when trying to keep up with this new way of schooling. As a long-standing source of homework assistance, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias (BGCS) has responded to this need over the past year. Parents seeking schoolwork assistance for their children should consider registering for Boys & Girls Club memberships.
To date, BGCS’ Porterville Clubs remain virtual, while the Visalia, Exeter, Strathmore, and Ivanhoe Clubs have reopened to provide the in-person Club experience. (Farmersville Club is set to open on February 1st.) Both Club experiences have had their own set of adjustments to make since the first stay-at-home order. Virtual Club staff quickly adapted by familiarizing themselves with the virtual platforms their members were using. They learned to incorporate different Zoom features—such as share screen, breakout rooms, white board, etc.—to make their Power Hour sessions (their homework assistance program) as helpful as possible.
When the in-person Clubs reopened, they also had to quickly adapt to their members’ new way of schooling. This is especially true for the Visalia Gindick Club, that has —in response to parents’ needs—extended their hours to 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM allowing Visalia members to attend their Zoom classes while at the Club. Staff go above and beyond to support their members. They help troubleshoot all technical issues and keep track of each member’s login information & school schedule. Most importantly, they monitor members and keep them focused during their Zoom classes.
Overall, both virtual and in-person Clubs have put a great emphasis on open communication with Club parents and school teachers. Parents have shown great appreciation for this as it has been more challenging than ever for them to ensure that their child’s school work is completed and up to par. It makes all the difference to a parent to be kept updated—it can be as simple as being told that their child had a tough day on Zoom and was unable to finish some of their work.
Understandably so, members—particularly the younger ones—tend to get fidgety and lose focus quickly during their Zoom classes. BGCS staff continuously looks for new ways to ensure that members remain focused while on Zoom, and actually retain the concepts being taught. For example, some virtual Clubs noticed that their members weren’t grasping concepts as well as they used to—such as spelling and math. Because of this, staff began leading spelling bees and tournament-style math games to engage their members and reinforce what they are being taught in school.
Cinthia Ibarra, Area Director of the Porterville Clubs, explains that forty-five minutes to an hour is allocated daily for Club members to complete their homework and receive assistance. She encourages Club members to speak up when help is needed—the staff is always more than happy to provide support. Ibarra added, “Also, communication is key. If there is something that a parent notices their kid needs help with, such as a particular subject, they should make sure to call their director and let them know.”
Leticia Betancourt, Area Director of Visalia, Exeter, Strathmore, Ivanhoe, Farmersville & Tulare Clubs, shows great pride in her team stating that: “They [her staff] all work as a team with each other and communicate throughout the day regarding all members and any possible changes and improvements needed to continue helping. I am proud of their dedication and adaptability during these times and the growth in their own positions by learning along with members. The staff’s resilience is rubbing off on members by them trying to work hard and even when there are hiccups they continue to keep trying.”
BGCS is a helpful resource for all Tulare County parents. Not only do they provide a wide range of interactive programming, but they also provide schoolwork assistance for children of all ages. If a parent would like to register their child for the Boys & Girls Club, they should visit www.bgcsequoias.org/registration and apply online. The cost of membership is only $15 per year, with the exception of the Porterville Clubs, for which membership fees have been waived. To stay up to date with the Clubs, they can follow them on Facebook and Instagram at @BGCSequoias.