Mar 20, 2015

¡Yo puedo escribir!

On March 16, 2015 we have started with writing lessons in a real writing notebook. The notebook is created by Ryan Olson.  Ryan is a regular volunteer with us, he returns each year for several weeks, and makes fantastic contributions to the work of the organization.

Using this notebook, children can learn writing with a real method. Each page contains three or four different letters of the alphabet. Learning comes in several steps. The first step is the trace of the letter. This helps by practicing the hand movement you have to make for writing the letter. The next step is a bit more difficult, because the tracing of a letter has changed in tracing dots. Then comes the third and most difficult step: writing the letter without help lines. The last practice of each page contains all three letters of that page in one line, so they can carry out the different movements of the hand behind each other. At the end of the notebook, all the letters of the alphabet have been practiced. A system already has been used in many Western countries. By learning to write, all other school performances will be improved as learning to write also helps by learning to read. It aids in the recognition of letters. And if children can read, they are able to do other school assignments much easier.

The notebook has enough space for practicing writing. Previously, the children had to write in their normal notebooks. Something the children prefer doing as little as possible. It occupies a lot of space in the notebooks, so parents have to buy a new notebook, while they actually do not have the money. Therefore we are very pleased with this opportunity.

Writing also provides many benefits to the entire development of the child. Writing is one of the hardest skills that we can teach a child. It requires good body coordination. It is a complex situation between the eyes, brains and neck up to the finger muscles, which requires a lot of exercise. Writing has a positive effect on the development of large and small motor skills. Cooperation is encouraged between left and right part of the brain, therefore brain development, brain activity and brain functions are promoted. Even higher cognitive levels as thinking, language and memory, can be improved by learning to write. During writing a child exerts discipline from the inside. He or she will learn that if you want to achieve something you really have to work for it, something that can contribute much to the future of the children of La Esperanza Granada. The concentration is enhanced as well, which stimulates thinking and the level of intelligence. And the last important thing is that writing helps with communicating, which makes it much easier to function in society.

Our latest volunteer interview

Name: Ellen Eklundh

Nationality: Finland
Age: 24

How did you find out about La Esperanza?  I wanted to have a break in my studies, so I started to look at different volunteer opportunities in Central America. I found La Esperanza and thought it seemed like a well-organized non-profit organization.

What is your current volunteer role with La Esperanza?
At the moment I’m working in the English Team, which means teaching basic English to kids between the age of 10 and 15. We are a team of currently four volunteers and one ayudante, and we go to two different schools and teach around ten different classes per week.

Describe how a day of working looks like
I meet up with my Team at 12.15, and we walk together to school. The walk takes around 40 minutes, and it’s really hot at that time. Arriving to school we are greeted by kids yelling “good afternoon” and “hello teacher”. The first class is at 1pm and each class is 45 minutes. Every week we have a new program and topics we will teach. Usually we start with a short repetition of the previous class, teach them some new grammar or verbs, and then do a game for practicing it. The first weeks we were mostly practicing greetings, colors and numbers. On Fridays we don’t have classes. Then we meet up with the team and plan the upcoming week – decide what to teach and in what way. Sometimes we make cards for a game or worksheets.

What has been your worst experience?
Sometimes it’s very frustrating how the level of knowledge varies in the class. Some of the students already know how to use the verb “to be”, while other ones still are struggling with basic greetings. In one way you want to focus on those with most progress and continue to teach them more, but in another way you want to help the ones falling behind. It’s difficult to find a balance. Some of our classes are very loud and noisy, and it’s annoying how the unmotivated ones disturb those who actually want to learn. Also it’s been really sad seeing some of our students selling cigarettes and sweets on the streets of Granada late in the evenings while we are having an after-work drink. That explains why some of them seem very tired in the class the next day.

What has been your best experience?
One of the best things has been arriving to a classroom of 40 students happily screaming “Inglés, inglés” and giving us applause. Many of the kids are very eager to learn, and it’s rewarding to see the slow but still existing progress. It makes you so happy when a student remembers something you taught them the previous time or understands something you’re explaining. Although it’s sometimes hard to work with the older teenagers, it’s been a great experience seeing the soft side behind the cool facade, and that they also want to learn and appreciate the attention they get.

Have you done some trips during the weekends? Did you like them?
Almost every weekend we go for trips somewhere around Nicaragua. It’s a great way of getting to know the other volunteers better and exploring the country together. There is so much to see in beautiful Nicaragua. So far I’ve visited León, San Juan del Sur and Ometepe. We have also done some daytrips to Mombacho, Masaya and the isletas. I also went to Costa Rica one weekend, which was great.

What do you like less about Nicaragua?
The catcalls and horns are very annoying. Also the fact that many locals expect gringos to have plenty of money to share with them.

What do you like most about Nicaragua?
I like the chill and laidback lifestyle of the Nicaraguan people and how they enjoy life day by day. I love the atmosphere at the crowded colorful markets, the awesome street food and all the delicious fresh fruits you get everywhere. Also travelling with the local buses (called chicken buses) is something I have enjoyed a lot; the latino music in the background, the ladies selling fresco and different snacks, the lack of personal space and the beautiful views of the landscapes.