Can I come to study?

Kids can surprise us over and over again. Today a girl arrived unexpectedly, we did not fix anything, she usually does not come. However, she is here now asking to join. Of course, please come, what else we can say. Later she did not want to go home because what can she do there – being bored? – she would rather stay, learn something else, play or do anything. She would like to borrow a book because she loves reading; she has already got two fives in Hungarian. We know that these are only moments, but moments we can build on. She came because she wanted to and we had 60 minutes to convince her: it is fun here, it is fun with us. Actually, this is what this job is all about; if there is the opportunity, we have to take it because nobody knows when we will have it again.

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One-two-three… lets move on. This week we had three online occasions while we were not in Told. Last time we mentioned that originally we organised six, so it is still not perfect, but three is already an improvement. Every occasion is a success and something more that was unimaginable last year. However, it still does not feel good when you are sitting there as a volunteer and you prepared for nothing because he/she does not show up, etc. Here and there, we have all heard dialogues in which people haul up children for not being grateful and not seeing how much a volunteer works for them. But if someone needs such appreciation then he/she looks for it in a wrong place. It is much simpler: he/she does not go to the Kultúr to Skype because he/she fell asleep, he/she is not in the mood, he/she has better things to do, anything. Nothing personal. Actually, that is weird if he/ she shows up because honestly, who would like to study if you can loiter around whole day with no one saying a word. However, they show up – all right, not every time – and they ask things like: can I come to study? They get off the bus at 4 p. m. and after a week of school they argue about who can come to study with us. All in all, if someone feels offended that sometimes they do not come or show gratitude – they do but in a different way – then he/she does not get it. Every day in Told shows that these kids are neither disgusted by studying, nor against writing or reading. Simply school just does not speak their language.

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Online studies work nicely. Often we teach them online even if we have capacity for personal occasion. On the one hand, there are some disadvantages: we move slower with the material, we lose personal connection, etc. On the other hand, we win in many aspects: he/she is not only practicing the material, but in the meantime also using the computer and getting used to the system, which he/she will be forced to use in the future – if everything goes well. These are always hard decisions, but so far, we think we have found the balance. Not to mention they enjoy it very much: computer still has its magic over them and they find it fun to study with someone who is not present.

Saturday morning we continued the sessions for the first-graders, which we started last week. It is still not perfect; we had to divide the occasion into two parts. Although, from another point of view, it was a success because the number of kids has increased since last week. In the end, we held an individual occasion and an occasion for two. Recently, we have tried to choose a thematic matching the season; today the focus was on apple. We had a great variety of tasks: mathematics with apple-bowling, worksheets, a board-dice game and reading comprehension. We made a puppet play with the Apple tale and of course, we did some chatting about the apple, nut, chestnut and autumn in general. It is interesting how deep impact summer has on them. Many times, they ask for certain games or tasks we played in the summer camps. Moreover, they would be completely able to insert the loved games into the current thematic. They have amazing ideas; we even felt bad why we did not think of some earlier. But this is good. Next time we will keep their ideas in mind, too.

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In the last post we mentioned that we got stuck in the flow of board games a little bit. We have not learned any new ones for a long time. We decided to change this and tried to get back to our aim with the help of complex, long strategic games, which improve patience. In Tikal, we are archaeologists and discover a Maja city with our workers, in close competition with the others in the search for temples and treasures. The more experienced kids are able to learn it very quickly, which is very important because the game time is more than an hour. They wanted to play Thursday and Friday evening too, so we concluded it as a success. Although it is a pretty long game – we played for 70-80 minutes – it requires to use your brain very seriously.

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It was very good that we had the chance to play two following evenings because it showed the kids’ development very nicely. In the first game, they fell behind us with big gaps among them. The next day they closed up, moreover, we lost and each player finished within 10 points. In our opinion, seeing through and understanding such a game structure is a very important cognitive process. So we are back at what we often try to emphasize: they can focus, sit and think for 80 minutes without break, still they are criticized for not paying attention, being restless and unable to study anything. Well, sure.

Julcsi, Máté
(translated by Sári)

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