Readin’ Ritin’ an’ Rithmatic

Santiagome!the girlsGabriel
Luckily the journey to San Marcos is a nice one; a view of the mountains out of the right hand window, and a lake from the left. I have done it so many times I nearly know every bend in the road. Luckily the little buses have air-con.
At the moment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I am in the childrens’ home. I was originally just working with four kids, but then I started a new system of giving out a sweet or a marble for good work. And now I suddenly seem to have about sixteen kids lining up for extra school-work. I did worry for about two seconds about the ethics of whether I could be accused of bribery, until a friend said “How many kids do you know in the UK who would be prepared to do half an hour of school work in exchange for a toffee or a marble…?”

I have been using a lot of the material from Alfalit, and augmenting it with activities that I have invented, and some others trawled from the internet. I’m surprised at how little there is in Spanish on the web, given that Spanish is the third language in the world after Chinese and English.

This week I was able to give out proper Alfalit work-books to the kids who are working on basic literacy and numeracy skills. I was amazed at how delighted they were to receive their own books…. I’d never thought of a kid being pleased to own a text-book. Here’s a few photos that we took to send to the people at Alfalit…

The guy in the top photo is Santiago. He is about to do first grade for the third time, but we think this time is going to be different. He is one of my keenest students. He’s desperate to learn joined up writing, which wouldn’t have been my highest priority for him, but because he’s so keen, I’m teaching him and using it as a vehicle to teach him some other things along the way. Don’t ask why he’s wearing his T-shirt on his head: he’s a kid, I have no idea!

Then he took my camera from me and snapped some terrible shots of me looking like a crazy teacher. Least said about that the better I think.

The three girls are working together here on numbers, basic number bonds, counting on our fingers… not got onto toes yet. Somehow all three have managed to receive a “pass” mark for several grades of maths classes without learning that if I hold up two fingers and my friend holds up another finger then that’ll make approximately three fingers between us.

The guy in the cap is Gabriel. He is also about to do first grade for the third time, and he finds school work really difficult. Gabriel’s never owned a book before. When I gave him his, he just sat and stared at it for ages, saying “that’s my book”. Trouble is, he’s so proud of it, he doesn’t want to spoil it by writing in it, which kind of wasn’t the point…

What I hadn’t figured was that all the other kids were going to want a book. And when I said “you guys can already read, these books are too easy for you” they said “but we still want one”. So this week I’ve managed to get hold of a stack of little word-search books on special offer… I introduced word-searches to the older kids over Christmas, which they enjoyed, so hopefully these will keep them busy for oooh, about two minutes maybe….

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