Over their school break, kids were reading picture books, putting together puzzles, and running around outdoors playing games. At the same time, they were building their skills in reading, problem solving, and teamwork. And having a blast while doing so.
Education promoters were hard at work over the school break, promoting our library, leading reading activities, providing teacher training, and teaching vacation school. Vacation school took place at our three partner schools in San Rafael, Santa Catarina, and San Miguel. Activities focused on children who will be starting first grade in February. Promoters led both indoor and outdoor activities, mostly educational games, and the kids loved it. Says Ligia Pol, San Rafael education promoter, “When it was noon, we would tell them it was time to go home, and they didn’t want to leave.”
Encouraging greater first grade success
First graders in Guatemala fail the grade at very high rates. Many children have not received any preschool education and have little-to-no foundation for learning to read, or even for adjusting to a classroom environment. The San Rafael school expects 35-40 first graders this year, and Ligia says she hopes this group of 19 will support their teacher in the classroom, now that they are more used to school routines.
Building skills in problem solving and teamwork
The vacation school activities also encouraged important skill building in problem solving and teamwork, skills that will serve children increasingly as they advance in school. In the adapted version of musical chairs played at San Rafael’s vacation school, a circle was drawn on the school courtyard floor to represent a plot of land, instead of using a chair. If the circle had an “X,” that meant the land was no longer available. What makes this game different is that more than one child can be on a plot of land. This helps them understand the importance of sharing and having solidarity with one another. During the game, children all helped each other, so it was less of a competition and more of a team-building experience.
Promoting a love of reading and libraries
Common Hope’s remodeled library and new reading programs, established in partnership with the Riecken Foundation, have also been busy over the vacation break. On a given morning or afternoon in the library, children are participating in scheduled reading activities, working on remedial homework assignments, reading, drawing, and putting together puzzles. Kids work on their own, with friends, and even with their parents.
Jacqueline Figueroa, Common Hope’s Reading and Creativity Promoter, recently held a three-day workshop for our Education Promoters and their assistants. The goal was to share ideas and techniques that promote reading among children, to be used by Promoters in the partner schools. “We did demonstrations of strategies and activities to encourage children to read,” says Jacqueline, “because it’s important that they are curious, that they discover and experiment.” The promoters enjoyed the workshop and are looking forward to using the strategies when school starts later this month.
The activities are a start to what we expect will be a school-year full of productive interactions between our library, education promoters, and partner schools.