We started something new. Again!
It’s practically a disease, but with great results 😃
While we have loads of toys and games, there is a point where the kids get uninterested in trains and CandyLand. And when these kids get into teenage years, that’s really when we most want to be there for them. We want to provide them with one-on-one attention and opportunities to talk to us. We also want to give them skills, a chance to be set apart. It’s hard to instill the idea of dreaming, of opportunities, in migrant students, but we want to try.
Toward the end of last year, Stephen had an idea of how we could continue to reach this group of teenagers and youth in the community.
It also provided a way to use his gifts aptly: he loves technology and enjoys learning with it. So, we applied for a grant with Kingdom Mission Fund and we were granted it earlier this year! Per anything with just the two of us, it takes time for us to get things going. We’re generally operating a bit over our heads, if we haven’t mentioned that yet. But, it’s officially up and running!
Four days a week after school, while our house is also open for play, we have two iPads available to the older kids. We’ve chosen a select group we know well and want to further invest in. They have an hour per week that the iPads are reserved to them, for them to learn different skills through apps and lessons with Stephen and I.
We gave them options of what to learn: English, coding, math, guitar, cajon, and art. They almost all chose guitar initially. Some have since changed their minds, but we do have six students studying guitar for an hour per week. We also have three learning English, one on coding, and another on art.
We have set it up to be self-guided but with help and assistance from us. I help more with English and art; Stephen helps more with guitar and coding. They are also given the freedom to “study” their class for 40 minutes, and take the last 20 to play educational games or puzzles. This week I taught Mwei Mwei how to play solitaire, and she loved it. And honestly, it teaches some great deduction and problem-solving skills that aren’t utilized in schools here. We played together, and I had the most fun I’ve ever had playing Solitaire!
The oldest three kids are actually given two hours per week. Mwei Mwei is learning both guitar and math; one of The Reinforcers does English one day per week and guitar the following. The other Reinforcer is really loving coding, and he does that twice per week.
The two new iPads focused on the youth has opened up our older iPad for a younger group. We were also given an older iMac that Stephen has set up with some basic games and activities. All of them have different schedules to give different age groups opportunities to learn technology, strategy, creativity, and more. It’s been really fun to see the kids learning new skills and exploring new worlds their community hasn’t previously had access to.
We’ve been introducing the idea of a schedule: they are each given a time on the iPads each week, and it’s their responsibility to show up to attend. We were laughing at the irony of the first few weeks, as we’d be encouraging people inside to sit in front of a screen. We’d be puling them out of groups and pushing them into work by themselves.
One of our goals is that this creates an individual activity for them to work toward and succeed at. We don’t want friends helping or taking over; we want them to get an individualized, focused opportunity to both teach themselves and get one-on-one help from us.
It means that we are constantly saying, “This is a one-person activity.” Or, “Stop playing outside and come work on the iPad!”
The difference is striking between their lives here and so many kids’ lives in the States. They spend so many hours outside; they are constantly walking to school, to the showers, to do laundry, to the shop. Everything is communal, so that they are always with people and in groups. There are often three or four people crowded around the computer to play Minecraft together. Even our retro video games: there are usually 8-10 kids taking turns playing Mario Kart, standing up, jumping around. As the two folks working extremely hard to get them fed every morning, I just want to tell them, Sit down! Let those calories stay with you! I want to give them a ride everywhere and get them seated playing a game; I want them to experience doing something on their own successfully.
It’s meant that this is fairly counter-cultural, but I think a good balance. Couldn’t we all use learning from our differences?
Overall, we’re so excited for the opportunities this has opened up and how smoothly we’ve been able to provide this for the community teenagers. We’re also going to do a test run of some English learning with two adult mothers next week.
We want to send out a special thanks to Kingdom Mission Fund, who makes projects like this possible! So many ideas just take a spark to make them happen, and we’re excited to be able to partner so that this could spark!