We are in the midst of a busy, challenging, hard season. The weather doesn’t help–it’s the middle of hot season and well over 100 every day. The evenings cool down to the 90s, but that is little respite. It is also summer, so the kids are out of school and, well, like every kid you know on summer break! They get a little stir crazy. They tend to be more destructive, more demanding, and more overwhelming for us.
To help curb this, we thought it would be helpful to have something for them to do–to keep them busy and to wear them out. I talked with the sweet woman I used to take Karen lessons from, who lives near our house and has a small children’s home. They have about seven teenagers in their home and love Jesus, so we thought they’d be great help to love on our community of kids. Actually, they are far more than a great help! They are spectacular teachers.
We take attendance–as there is a prize promised to anyone who attends all 10 classes over five weeks–and then start with English.
Each student has their own work folder, with an English packet and math packet for their level. They work through it on their own or in groups and ask for help when they need it. Its very counter-cultural, since we don’t have a teacher in the front and it isn’t rote learning.
We usually do about 40 minutes of English and then switch to math for about 20 minutes, simply because I have to grade it all and they are much faster at math! Over the weekends I look over all of them and circle what is incorrect, which they then re-do. This is also very counter-cultural, so we’re stretching them in every direction!
A little after 11, we sing songs. I picked out eight songs for us to learn over the five weeks. One is a version of “If You’re Happy & You Know It,” but goes through happy, angry, scared, and sleepy. We also sing a song for the days of the week, one for colors about God coloring the world, and “The Lord is Good to Me.” The last four are from The Verses Project, so they are directly from the ESV Bible. It seemed a great way for them to learn Bible verses in English, so we are memorizing Galatians 5:22-23, John 14:6, Proverbs 15:1, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
After we sing through some of the songs, we have “story time.” I found a set of Burmese children’s books in town, and Stephen & I have been reading them in our Burmese classes. They each teach a lesson about caring for others, taking care of the environment, having confidence, etc. I gave them to the older students who are helping us teach, thinking they could read them aloud to the younger students. I’m not sure where the miscommunications occurred or what “story time” generally looks like locally, but it usually means they re-tell the story book in their own way and words. Or sometimes they just tell their own stories–perhaps with a moral, perhaps funny; it’s hard to say because I can only understand bits of it!
Once the kids in the community head home, we walk to one of the family’s shops to have lunch with the student helpers.
So far, we’re two weeks in and the kids love it. It is amazing to see them so excited to come and learn, even just to do worksheets on their own. It has also made summer much more bearable for Stephen & I, despite the stacks of papers to check over the weekend. I love the opportunity to encourage the kids and tell them how great they’re doing. Two weeks in, I’m both thankful we decided to do it and that we decided on only five weeks 🙂