Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reading classes

Materials for reading class
Today seven different girls came for individual reading class.  In the morning, Dulce returned after having not come for several weeks.  She still remembered the words and letter sounds that she had learned before.  Her reading is quite laborious, but she has a good memory and also really wants to learn.

In the afternoon, the first student showed up at 1:40 for her class.  Gabi is in fifth grade, but she hardly knows how to read.  If she really concentrates, she can do pretty well, but the reading is slow and painstaking.  I suspect she may have slight dyslexia, but it´s hard to tell for sure.  She also is not very motivated and comes to class more because her parents send her than because she wants to learn.

The girl who followed, Guadalupe, reads slowly, but it seems that her only problem is lack of practice.  When she is in class one-on-one, she has very few difficulties.  She knows how to sound out words well, and in Spanish, sounding out words is quite possible.

Her younger sister, Iyari, is an impatient reader.  She is most like how my mom says I was when Mom was teaching me to read.  She will look at part of a word and randomly guess what it says, or she will look at the pictures and begin guessing the word without ever looking at the actual word.  Thus we have in Spanish "river? cloud? boat? water?" and so on, when the word is "sea."  Iyari probably will learn reading just fine once she gets the idea that she really does have to look at the letters to see what the word says. 

Ashlee arrived next.  She is the one who struggles most of my current students.  She has no concept of the sound-symbol relationships with letters.  She will look at a syllable that I just pronounced for her and have no idea what it says.  Today I wrote the vowels on our small whiteboard for her, and she could pronounce them, but when I added just one consonant in front of the vowel, she had no idea what the syllable said.  I have decided to stop using the Mas Luz curriculum with her and just to focus on syllables.

Sandra has been my most consistent student.  She is now halfway through the second book and is therefore reading summarized Bible stories.  She balks at first when she sees a page with five or six complete paragraphs for her to read, but then she plows on.  Her reading is still slow, and she has to sound out words often, but she has definitely improved.

The last student is my newest.  She just began school, but her mom taught her some reading, and it seems she has a pretty good grasp of the idea that letters have individual sounds and therefore words can be sounded out (at least in Spanish).  She is proud of herself when she finishes a lesson.

Usually siblings arrive with the students, and so there are often children playing in the room while class is in session.  Perhaps it´s not the ideal environment for the reading, since the room can get quite noisy, but I´m glad that the children feel comfortable coming to our house and that their parents trust us.  It is one more way to build bridges in this community.  We recently attended two different parties given by our neighbors, because the children asked their parents to invite us.  At those parties we have the opportunity to talk with the adults and meet other neighbors.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jesús transforma vidas

Abraham and I just finished the second VBS of our summer.  My sister Joy was visiting during the first VBS which was at the church Dios es Amor.  She and I helped Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the babies´ room, and Abraham helped every day with the games.  The theme for that VBS was El Soldado de Dios (God´s soldier), and it was planned for and prepared by a team at the church.

The second VBS was the one at our home in Huejotzingo.  Several months before, Abraham found a curriculum at, a site dedicated to training people to tell Bible stories verbally so that others can learn the stories and tell them to friends and family.  

We decided to try the VBS curriculum with the theme Jesus Transforms Lives.  Each day featured a different person who had contact with Jesus:  the Samaritan woman, the man who had been Legion, Zaccheus, the Samaritan leper, and Peter.  The Bible stories had been edited to make them into personal testimonies, and five different people memorized and presented the monologues to the children.
Preparing for the VBS took considerable work, even though the curriculum was already online.  We had to print out pages, edit some material, make copies, buy supplies, draw and color posters, choose and learn songs, and plan games.  We decided to include the daily verses in all of the games and activities, with the result that the children thoroughly memorized five verses by the end of the week.
One of the verses in a game
 It was an exhausting but rewarding week.  A large group of teens and adults came to our home from Dios es Amor each day to help with the activities.  They pitched in with preparation in the morning, added finishing touches to the games, helped serve snack and guided the children in verse practice during snack time, sang enthusiastically, explained the hand-crafts and papers that reenforced the day´s stories, and cleaned up after the children returned to their homes.  Four of the helpers memorized the Bible stories and presented them in monologues during meeting time.  Five families from the church donated snacks for the kids.

Throughout the week, our son Abishael accepted the complete disruption of his schedule with relative calm.  He was carried by different people during the VBS hours, and he sometimes slept almost the entire time the kids were at our house.  It was only toward the end of the VBS hours when he began to fuss, and when I took him to our room and let him play quietly on the bed, he recovered his cheer.
Quite a few children missed the closure on Sunday, but the ones who came enjoyed the time.  The older group of children recited all five Bible verses of the week, the last two verses with sign language as well as speaking.  The younger group said one verse all by themselves and sang a song.  Three mothers joined their children at the closure, which was the first time that any parents had attended a VBS closure.

Please pray for the children who attended.  Several of them told us that they repeated the stories at home in the afternoons.  Pray for the families as well, that the stories of transformation would touch their hearts.  Pray also for Abraham and I as we return our home to its normal state, rather than have piles of stuff all over.  Pray too as we plan to visit the families of the children who came to VBS, that relationships could be established and lives changed.