HOMEWORK clubs started for Ukrainian children in West and North Clare in recent weeks are already proving themselves to be a success, with hopes of expanding the idea to other parts of the county and maybe further afield.
The Homework Club Project, established by Clare Local Development company started for Ukrainian children on October 10 in Kilkee, and on October 17 in Ballyvaughan. Lisdoonvarna’s Homework Club is now up and running successfully for the last three weeks and that one is also open to local children in Direct Provision.
Project Leader for the three clubs, Ailbhe Crowley of Clare Local Development Company Ailbhe explains how they work. “These are Ukrainian afterschool homework clubs. We already have homework clubs running around Clare in the Deis schools and these were hugely successful, so after the Ukrainian new arrivals had got involved in the summer camps we decided to expand the homework club system.”
“The idea has been a great success so far, we began to focus first around English and the homework that the children are getting from Irish schools. We have fifteen children in Kilkee for example, aged from 5 up to 12. We do it in two groups, starting the smallies from 2 -3pm then the after, the seniors from 1st to 6th class,” says Ailbhe.
“It is very important that this is more than just an English class. This is about play, chatting and socialising as well as getting help with their homework. It helps them keep up with the schoolwork and make new friends” she explains.
The Lisdoonvarna, Homework Club only started on November 14. As the children attend different primary schools around Lisdoonvarna the logistics are trickier.
“These are different because kids come from more than one school; so it is tricky with bus times and directions,” explains Ailbhe. “We are still teasing out the local circumstances.”
The children’s parents are very enthusiastic about the homework clubs. “It’s incredibly important that the children have another space that is not the hotel, is not school, where they can be more informal in a play area,” says Ailbhe.
“And they can learn to communicate with the other children and school classes. We can already see the younger children in particular coming out of themselves and developing”
The Homework Clubs are also keen to expand their portfolio as spring comes.
“We would love to get the children playing in the outdoors in the spring, in nature and even surfing,” says Ailbhe.
Staffing is always an issue, the CLDC.ie would welcome enquiries from those interested in tutoring with teaching experience or a background in childcare.
“We have homework tutors like retired teachers or SNAs who have some experience working with children. We would like it fi people could spread the word to both parents and potential tutors that these clubs are up and running in Kilkee, Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna.”
Alina Senkova is an CLDCO intercultural worker from Sumy in northern Ukraine, 30kms from the Russian border. A former journalist, Alina has been in Ireland for eight months and is now working with Clare Local Development Company Ukrainian response team, in conjunction with Ailbhe.
“The homework project for Ukrainian children is so important as it is an environment that promotes children’s social and emotional development which is positive for the children’s academic development,” says Alina.
“The Clare homework project run by Ailbhe strengthens local integration for Ukrainian refugees in County Clare. This is so important.”
The Clare Local Development Company are hoping to expand the Homework Clubs further around the county next year. Both Ailbhe and Alina believe the Homework Club project is scalable on a national level.