Almost two and a half years later, students are returning to in-person educational support programs provided by Common Hope. Most kids across the U.S., Guatemala (and the world) spent significant chunks of time learning from home. We don’t know the lasting impacts of remote learning, but we know that students need support now that schools are starting to reopen partially.
“I am a person who is always in the process of self-training, and I love to share everything I learn with others.”- says Jorge Alvarez, pictured on the right.
Many students in Guatemala struggle with remote learning as many do not have adequate devices (computer, cell phone, or tablet) to connect to online classes. The challenges do not stop with connectivity, and many parents feel as if they cannot guide their children due to not having adequate schooling themselves, or they are not able to monitor their children’s studies due to work. Without in-person guidance and support, many students lack the motivation to continue studying and, like many of us, are tired of the constant screen time.
Teachers and students had to figure out how to “do” remote learning, so the successes of students and the ever-clever teachers during quarantine need to be celebrated. Now the reopening of in-person support programs for students and their families is a reason to celebrate!
Without talented and dedicated staff, getting students excited and motivated to learn would not be possible. The Education Support Program is built of men and women devoted to making learning a fun experience that students will keep wanting to come back to.
Jorge Alvarez, manager of the Educational Support Program, started his adventure with Common Hope in 2010 and now shares that his journey has been educational for him. “Common Hope has been a great school of life since it allowed me to have my first work experience and learn so many things that have marked my life to this day,” Jorge shared. When you meet Jorge, you realize that teaching is not a job for him but a passion. He is always trying to look for the best way to do things while seeking clear and efficient processes for everyone. Jorge’s passion for learning and curiosity is a powerful influence on students that visit the educational support programs.
Jorge noticed that many students lacked motivation with remote learning. He identified lack of social interaction and physical activity as big contributors to student burnout. At home, some parents worked all day, causing students to spend long days alone without the interactions they normally would’ve had with in-person classes. Remote learning meant that kids spent much more time indoors and on screens. Covid-19 protocols kept students confined to their homes and unable to gather with friends to enjoy play time outside and get beneficial exercise.
The Educational Support Program’s main function is to provide access to educational and
extracurricular programs, services, and resources to reduce risks and academic barriers for scholarship students and other affiliated family members.
Common Hope is currently offering the following resources provided by the
Educational Support Program to keep students motivated:
– Homework Center, is a physical and virtual space in which children are supported by a teacher and are encouraged to share and learn with their classmates.
– Skill Learning for First Grade, this program is a classroom for parents where they learn how to guide/teach their children through the help of a facilitator. They learn how to support their first graders at home by encouraging them to read, write, and introduce them to numbers.
– Connectivity Resources, provides internet recharges and access to the Research Center. In the Research Center, in addition to finding equipment (computer, tablet, internet, printing), they have the guidance of facilitators.
Are students still interested in learning, and are they actually learning? The answer is unclear, Jorge admits. “It is difficult to indicate students’ commitment to learning and what they are learning. Some indicators may be the attendance of virtual/in-person classes, homework completion, grades for each unit, and participation in educational programs and resources.”
His and the Educational Support Teams’ perception is that most students and parents try to make learning meaningful. Still, they have many limitations, which makes them leave their studies. It is in these situations that Common Hope exists for families.
The return to in-person activities feels like news start for the families, students, and staff of Common Hope. “I hope that every time we can see our spaces full of students and families seeking services and support, we have available for them. We have children who would be in the Homework Center daily if they could. Some even come when they don’t have homework,” exclaimed Jorge.