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Library program helps students get in the zone

CARLSBAD — With school back in full swing, students are trading in lazy summer afternoons for evenings spent tackling homework and project assignments.
Fortunately for local students, Carlsbad’s library branches have also kicked off their successful “Homework Zone” program to provide help along the way.
The volunteer program is free of charge and offers guidance on every subject for
first- through 12th-graders. Students can drop by the Dove Library, Cole Library and Library Learning Center four days a week to meet with volunteers on a first come, first served basis.
“The Homework Zone volunteer is not there to do the child’s homework, they are there to help the children find the answer for themselves,” children’s librarian Barbara Chung said. “It helps them develop study skills and learn to find information.”
Launched in 2003, the program is an ideal after-school resource for students. The convenient hours and locations make it an easy stop for kids heading home from school, where they can meet with volunteers in designated homework spaces.
It is modeled after a popular King County, Wash., library program called Study Zone.
“I like it because when my parents can’t help me with my homework, I can just come here,” 11-year-old Mariana Jiminez, a Valley Middle School student, said.
While the Homework Zone is not intended for use as one-on-one tutoring sessions, the volunteers learn time management skills to help each student as much as possible. Volunteers often accommodate several students at a time depending on the library’s needs.
“The whole idea is to help them get their homework done and explain things they may not have understood when the teacher explained it in class,” Chung said.
The program’s volunteers come from a variety of career backgrounds — many are retired teachers — and are passionate about helping children with their studies.
Volunteer Ann Eklund has enjoyed working with the program for the past four years. She previously taught science labs, art appreciation and gifted programming in Fallbrook. “I missed the kids,” she said.
In her time with the Homework Zone, she has seen children transform from struggling English learners to confident students no longer in need of help.
“I love it — it’s a wonderful program,” Eklund said. “The kids work hard and I’ve seen some of them make wonderful strides.”
Volunteers are available at the Dove Library, 1775 Dove Lane, Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.; at the Georgina Cole Library, 1250 Carlsbad Village Drive, from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 1:30 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays; and at the Library Learning Center, 3368 Eureka Place, Monday through Thursday 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.