We have just spent a few amazing days in Told! Last week we were writing about our unfortunate weekend (nothing seemed to work somehow), but this week everything went exceptionally well. Even the Sun was shining all weekend long, and the good weather conditions have played a major role in our good mood – and also in the fact that the number of children who came to study reached its highest point. Two afternoons and a morning-period was enough to hold more than 20 individual learning-sessions (off – and online), one session for our 1st grader-group and two board game-nights.
The individual sessions are being more and more organised. Children began to get used to the system of our supplementary school, so the majority of kids arrived exactly in due time, and many of them stayed for more than one hour to learn different subjects. The online help we got from our volunteer staff helped a lot in achieving it, since two or three kids could learn on the computers at the same time. Children seem to enjoy this learning-form; they really like filling out online exercises with the help of the volunteers who are a few hundred miles away.
We had wanted to embed second language learning (SLL) in our repertoire for a long time, this is why we established a new team specialised in SLL in September. Before this team started to deal with SLL, our staff only helped kids with their homework and helped them to learn new vocabulary items. But from the beginning of this new school-year, we have put more emphasis on this area. We have started to measure the level of our students (in English as well as in German), and hopefully a personal development-plan for each language learner will be created by the end of October. We have already started working with some of the children: coherent sessions (with different rhymes, songs, situational exercises, etc.) are held in accordance with their level, age and interest – and they seem to enjoy the differentiated learning-form a lot.
This year we try to make the reading comprehension sessions more exciting and customized. This is a hard job since we have to search for really good texts and good exercises need to be prepared, as well. We have a lot of different texts in our repertoire already (Rejtő-comic books, folk – and fairy tales, KJK books, documentary books, etc.) and we try to adjust them to the age and interest of our students. Furthermore, we have also achieved to observe and measure the development of students in different subfields. Another achieved goal this year is that we could place more emphasis on writing: we have just started writing tales with some of the students. Writing a story has a simple form: we construct the tales together (we add sentences in turns), and we type them in – in order to save them. This weekend two tales were made (one about a cat that had a stomach-ache after drinking milk, and one about the so-far-not-known adventures of King Matthias) and one will be finished on the next occasion. The “writers” enjoy the writing-process and are very proud of their masterpieces (which they proudly took home, of course). One of the girls wanted to get a lot of copies so that she could give them to her schoolmates (but we decided that she can get only one more copy which she can read out to the others). We hope that many stories will be written in the future – and obviously we wouldn’t keep them exclusively to ourselves.
This week three children came to the group-session we hold for those who have just started going to primary school. They find the first grade very amusing, so we started the session with them telling stories from school. We continued with talking about seasons (especially about autumn) and we also did some basic Maths exercises. One of the boys did not want to do anything else but drawing, so we made a compromise: he could improve his Maths skills through drawing the solutions of different exercises that needed logical thinking (e.g. he had to draw a castle that had 6 windows, but only 2 of the windows could have bars, and only 3 of them could be square-shaped, etc.). And, since these children could not make enough tree-leaves last week (during the arts and crafts activity), they finished the session with making one or two leaves again.
There was no other option: during both board game-nights we had to excavate and explore the ancient city, Tikal. It seems that we have to be more determined if we want to move to another game. Yet it is true that they enjoy seeing their own development, and the more they play a game, they more they understand its tactics – and, fortunately, they can express it more easily, as well. Moreover, they started to comment on their (and on the others’) achievements as well as on the game itself. This is a new and very valuable level. But, obviously we would like to teach them a new board game next week (UR), with which we would like to warm them up for the exciting autumn break, where territory-building board games will be in the focus.
We provide online learning opportunities during the first half of the week again for students coming back from school. In the next two weeks we would like to make new children come to learn with us. Nevertheless, we know that it is an aim that might be hard to achieve, since coming to learn at 2pm or at 4pm with a volunteer who is not present might not be an appealing proposition, but we will try our best to achieve it.
Bogi and Máté
(translated by Bogi)