18 July 2009

Winter School... aka: Multiplication Camp

About 50 kids showed up every day for Winter School at Emthonjeni. We had dreamed of about 80 - but honestly, I loved the smaller groups... and I think it says a lot that none of the kids quit coming after the first day or two. Seriously. Showing up voluntarily every day for math and reading?? Even I had a hard time waking up in the morning, shuffling out of my warm bed into the frigid morning, knowing we were going to be working on 7 & 8 times tables for hours.

But... let's be honest... endless supplies of stickers and games and bags of marshmallows, they have a way of motivating. Every day we started with a classic counceling game. "care and share" we called our time each morning divided into our small groups of 4 or 5 kids to 2 adults (Harrison was my co-leader... he was so great!) Our kids' favorite game was a home made board game where they landed on squares and answered the designated questions... what is your favorite food? What makes you happy at home? What makes you sad at school? Man, some of the answers tore me apart... but the serious moments were lightened when the next kid would land on "give someone a silly command" and I'd have to run around the circle flapping and cackling like a chicken.

I gained a lot of respect for classroom teachers this week. I mean, I've been home schooling for over three years now, and my kids are different ages so I have been teaching to different learners... but for real, having four kids who were all so unique - it made group learning tricky. One could have been teaching the class multiplication while one couldn't quite even get the concept of WHAT multiplication meant. I was so glad Harrison was there - He'd take the slower one while I'd take the middle kids... and Mabontle, my bright one, she'd help me teach. We worked mostly on times tables... playing games to re-enforce learning...

After lunch we would read.

It was so sweet to get to spend one-on-one time with these kids. They are a small section of the big fifth grade group Harrison and I tutor on Thursday afternoons... but with 30 kids once a week, you barely get time to get to know names. This week we got to get to know each other and struggle through learning together and celebrate every single little accomplishment. We got to sit with each other for hours and spontaniously sing worship songs together and snuggle up together while we read. We learned bible verses and ate until tummies were full.

It was a beautifully special week...

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