One of the most prominent ways United Way defines community success is by the progress children make when going through the educational system. United Way believes that education is the cornerstone of a strong community. In 2008, it established a 10-year goal to cut in half the number of students who drop out of high school. There are many steps that parents, volunteers, and communities as a whole can take to keep dropout numbers to a minimum.
First, parents and caregivers can help make the early years of a child's life a constant educational experience. They can turn household chores into games, such as naming the colors of clothes in the laundry, or they can transform ordinary tasks into core elements of learning, such as counting the number of stairs in their house as they ascend to bed.
Additionally, parents can read with their children on a regular basis. Coursework gets much harder around fourth grade because it becomes more dependent on reading. So, kids who have trouble reading may get left behind. Parents can keep their children interested in books by remaining interested themselves. When children are younger, they can read books together. As the child grows up, they can read separately, then discuss the contents when both have finished. This can foster necessary reading skills and keep parents and kids emotionally close.
United Way volunteers can help enhance educational community success by mentoring local children. For example, anyone who knows how to read can volunteer with a local YMCA or get involved in a literacy program that targets children. Volunteers can work one-on-one with a child who may look to them not only for reading guidance but for life guidance as well.
In both those ways, volunteers can instill a sense of pride in children who may have otherwise felt down because of their educational sticking points. Teaching kids to read and providing them with a sense of pride will go a long way toward keeping them in school until graduation.
Reaching out to a child who is struggling to make his or her way through school can make a significant difference. Caregivers and volunteers play a large part in their progress by not only defining community success but by positively influencing their lives along the way.