The Head Start program allows Auburn University psychology students to apply their classroom knowledge to real life situations in a fun and enjoyable atmosphere. The Head Start program works with low-income families and children around the Auburn, Opelika and Hurtsboro areas in order to develop their education and social skills.
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The volunteer opportunity is open to any Auburn University student, however they prefer students that are majoring or minoring in psychology because a large portion of the program’s time is devoted to doing psychological based assessments. Psychology students are also given three hours of course credit for classes such as PSYC 3940 or PSYC 4910.
“I loved volunteering with Head Start,” said Millie Reeves, a senior from Savannah, Georgia. “The children were easy to work with and it was fun to actually see how psychology plays a role in real-life situations.”
Reeves, who is majoring in psychology and planning to graduate in the spring, participated in the Head Start program last semester with fellow Auburn student, sophomore Lawler Dudley.
“I learned about the program through my developmental psychology class that was taught by Dr. Knight,” said Reeves. “Head start is funded by how much volunteer service they get, so I went at least six hours a week. Three hours a day for two mornings.”
The Alabama Council on Human Relations sponsors the Head Start Program. The program now serves more than 400 children who are between the ages of 3 and 5. Graduate students studying psychology are considered a Psychology Team Volunteer and work with children to achieve goals such as making decisions that work, solve problems effectively, communicate well with others and think things through and/or figure things out.
“I really enjoyed doing the speed dial tests, which tested cognitive abilities, speech and motor abilities,” said Dudley. “If there were any behavioral problems or low scores we would give referrals to the Psychology Team.”
Dr. Steven Shapiro, a psychology professor at Auburn University, is the supervisor for Auburn students who participate in the program, so anyone wishing to participate should email Dr. Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“All together it was a great experience,” said Dudley. “I highly recommend it to every Auburn student majoring in psychology.”
“I am so glad that I got participate with the Head Start program,” said Reeves. “Playing with little kids is a great way to earn course credit.”