Intergenerational Program Enables Seniors to Give Back and Help Students Improve Academic Performance

NEWS // August 30, 2016

Intergenerational Program Enables Seniors to Give Back and Help Students Improve Academic Performance

Feel bored after retirement? Want to be engaged in the community? Here is a unique chance for adults over 50 to be a tutor, mentor and friend for a child who needs help developing reading and language skills. San Diego OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring/Mentoring program helps students improve test scores in reading and math while opening the doors for seniors to put their life skills to work for a younger generation.  

“Over nearly two decades, OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring has consistently improved students’ reading ability, academic performance and attitudes about learning. The program taps the tremendous potential of committed volunteers who have the time, patience and life experience to make a profound difference in the lives of children,” said John Dunnicliff, Intergenerational Tutoring Volunteer Coordinator. “Each tutor is paired with a Title One elementary school student, one-on-one, once a week, for an hour, throughout an entire year with the same student.  We call it the “grandparent” effect.” 

One on One Tutoring Works!
Samantha missed 100 days of kindergarten and was now behind in learning in the second grade. She hid behind long bangs over her brow and initially would not make eye contact. Her parents were going through a divorce and she was not coping well.  Chris, a San Diego OASIS tutor, was assigned to Samantha for help with her reading.  Ironically, Chris had a similar experience with parents divorcing.  She even wrote a book about her feelings as a child growing up with a harsh step-father in post-war Germany titled “A Bucketful of Love.” Chris started to talk to Samantha, share and read with her. In just a few months, Samantha was making progress. She proved to be bright and sociable. Now, she has her hand up eager to answer questions and she even pulled her hair back. In Measures of Academic Success testing administered by the school, she achieved an astonishing increase in test scores of twenty points! Typical student progress throughout the year is eight points for that grade and age group. The teacher was stunned and grateful to our OASIS tutor for helping Samantha thrive.

Finding the Right Match For Tutor And Student Equals Success
Tyler, a fourth grader, clearly expressed to his teacher that he didn’t like school and he didn’t like books. The teacher counseled an OASIS tutor that Tyler didn’t have a father at home, and unfortunately an unstable mother. Al, a San Diego OASIS tutor, was able to gain Tyler’s confidence when he discovered his interest in how mechanical things work – cars, planes, and electronic toys. Ironically, Al is a retired engineer who was able to share his knowledge of how mechanical things work to engage Tyler in conversation. They could speak the same “language.” Eventually, Tyler began to improve in reading, language, and math to achieve significant test score increases!

The principal of the school that Samantha and Tyler attend is convinced that inviting San Diego OASIS into the school for tutoring is a considerable factor in receiving a considerable 32% increase in Academic Performance Index results this year for overall performance. Moreover, most volunteers who participate in the program enjoy the one-to-one interaction and value it as a life-changing experience both for the students and the tutors.  

Testimonials from San Diego OASIS tutors and teachers:
"I want to thank Oasis for such a rewarding experience. The reading test scores say it all. We do make a difference."

“Tutoring is greatly needed in the economic area in which I volunteer, and it is great to know that I've helped children achieve and give them the sense of joy for literacy.”

“I am planning on coming back next year because it keeps me young and I get to introduce some of my favorite books.”

“Although my wife and I have tutored at other schools in the past, we felt that Oasis provided us training, materials and ongoing education to help us make the most of tutoring.”

“It brings meaning to my life. I feel I am making a difference in these children's lives. I see improvements by the end of the year as I learn how far they have improved. I see students gain confidence in reading and expressing themselves.”

“I tutor at a great school with very friendly people. I have a lot of respect for teachers. They obviously enjoy their students and work very hard to help them succeed. It is a privilege to help them.”

“Even with just 6 months tutoring my student is now reading at grade level.”

“OASIS tutors have a positive impact on my students.  The students served by OASIS are low performing and not usually getting academic support at home. The special attention provided by these trained volunteers boosts my students’ self-confidence and reading skills.”

About San Diego OASIS
San Diego OASIS promotes successful aging for older adults through lifelong learning, healthy living, and intergenerational community service. San Diego OASIS offers over 1,700 classes in art, finance, history, exercise and wellness, disease management, language, computer training, travel activities and intergenerational volunteer opportunities to work with at risk elementary school children. Reaching more than 40,000 mobile, active older adults throughout San Diego County, San Diego OASIS programs offer solutions to the problems of isolation and sedentary behavior due to lifestyle changes and losses experienced as we age. San Diego OASIS members are active, engaged, and thriving. Operating two office locations in Mission Valley and Escondido, San Diego OASIS collaborates with over 100 additional locations around the County in public libraries, senior centers, museums and Boys and Girls Clubs.