We have a new outside picnic table in our lounge room – we couldn’t fit enough children around our dining room table. A large sounds chart hangs over our curtains. A portable whiteboard with a hundred chart stuck to the back sits snuggly in the corner; alongside a mobile library which currently houses reading books and learning resources. There’s a jerrycan for drinking water brought in each morning; and 12 cups sit waiting on the bench… school’s back (but in our house).
Schools here have been closed for more than a year. Last year Dan spent a large portion of his time teaching children in our neighbourhood, walking across the road with a radio, slates, chalk, flashcards and a storybook. He just had to walk out of our gate with a storybook in his hand and the children would eagerly assemble.
Alongside teaching the neighbours, we also homeschooled Myron all last year. We started again this year but teaching a highly verbal, extremely social extrovert one-to-one was proving to be quite a challenge. What’s the solution? Bring in more children. Dan and I take it in turns to teach 12 children every morning. We emphasise English and Maths, since they are the areas the children need to focus most on. Even Myron is part of the intervention and he helps to teach remedial reading lessons to one boy before classes begin.
Last week was slightly tough: one of the boys spilled a cup of water over Jody’s computer; and one of the children tried to steal our external DVD player. We suspended lessons for two days unless someone confessed… the next morning there was a confession (no doubt some parent discipline) and lessons resumed.
Today was a much lighter start to the week. It’s International Women’s Day here, officially a public holiday. We still had ‘school’ and decided to include a sunflower art lesson – a gift for the women in their lives. We can’t put into words how much the children LOVED painting and completing this activity. And what was so beautiful was that the boy who arrives early each morning to get some extra help with his reading was clearly the star artist in the class. What an opportunity for his peers to see him shine in this area.
And what impact has this had on Myron’s learning? It’s a game changer! He is now much more motivated to learn, it’s no longer a struggle and we are riding on the positive aspects of peer pressure. He may get sent out occasionally… but he’s not the only one.