Angels giving foster kids a second chance at learning
FOR almost 10 years Charlie Sorenson has dedicated one hour a week to helping foster children with their education.
After looking for a new project, he decided to become a Pyjama Angel where he helps kids in care with their reading and other educational skills.
"It's something I've always been interested in,” he said.
"My wife and I always have a book near us whether it's next to our bed or in the lounge room.
"We used to read to our children when they were young and we've passed it on to our daughter and granddaughters, now they read all the time.”
Mr Sorenson said he wanted to be able to give something back to disadvantaged kids.
"These kids are separated from their parents and put into care and for one hour a week it's their special time to be the centre of attention,” he said.
"The aim of The Pyjama Foundation is to boost their literacy skills and by helping them read they become a bit more confident and hopefully they'll pick up a book and start reading it themselves.”
He said every child learns differently and when he takes on a different child it's a learning experience for him as well.
"It can be a bit hard to come up with new and fun ways to help them learn,” he said.
"I get advice from friends and teachers about what works and also what resources I can use.
"We also have a library where the Pyjama Angels have access to resources and games and puzzles to help the kids learn.”
He's found ways to incorporate play with learning.
"Concentration can be a struggle - some kids, depending on what they've been through, will only concentrate for 15 minutes and you've planned for an hour,” he said.
"There was one boy I was working with who gave me his concentration for 15 minutes so we went outside and there were a lot of balls in the backyard.
"So we gathered them all up and using them I formed the first letter of his name and we talked about sizes, colours and textures.
"By the end of that session he knew the first letter of his name and could use the balls to make it.”
Mr Sorenson said being able to see the children achieve things makes being a Pyjama Angel a rewarding experience.
"You get such a buzz from it,” he said.
"The child I'm teaching at the moment - I use puzzles because he likes them so I tried to find one with words on it.
"So I also found a puzzle that had numbers on it and we also spoke about shapes, corners and curves.
"At the end of the hour he was able to count up to 20 on his own and count back, but I didn't teach him to count back and it was just such a great thing.”
Mr Sorenson said he encouraged everyone to become a Pyjama Angel.
"To become a Pyjama Angel you need to be at least 18 and you need to be willing to give that one hour a week.”