Educational Classroom opening

Los Girasoles , Yurac Yacu 2020 Update — Home School Teaching during a Pandemic

The Corona Virus Pandemic has had a strong effect on the countrywide educational system in Peru. Since March 16, 2020 children have not been allowed into physical classes and it is very debatable if there will be any changes for this year to come. As in the world, teachers and educational institutions continue to scramble to provide virtual classes in a country where only a few have access to technology that allows them to participate. The government has implemented a form of television teaching preschool and kindergarten in a very basic way for ½ hour a day. If you are not part of a larger school, a private school, or live in a city, this is all that you have. There are no zoom classes, videos from teachers, social activities.

In the area of the Yurac Yacu project we have 10 children in our program. We are fortunate that we know the children and their parents and that the children know us. Having done a survey it was no surprise to see that of the 10 families no one has a smartphone, no one has internet (so no WhatsApp or zoom classes), they all have old cell phones, 2 have tv´s , they all have radios and  half of the mothers rely heavily on Quechua to understand instructions and directions. What was the challenge was how to help them but not have the children back at school or have a large parent group at a time of social distancing.

Given the obvious demographics of our families and a huge desire for contact and continual learning, our way has been to meet one on one with one parent from the family once a week for 45 – 60 minutes to give them a package of school material prepared by the teachers Yessenia and Diana. This is so hard to do because of the age of the children and that the program is very much based on social interaction, using what you learn, discovery and investigation. The time spent with the parent is to explain and teach them first, quiz them on how they will present this to their children and many times done in Quechua.

The children are given wonderful books and puzzles in addition to science projects, art, math, and fine motor and communication activities on a weekly basis. Rather than rely on communal school supplies, we bought each family paints, glue, crayons etc. so that the children have what they need to complete the activities.  We even have them continuing the healthy lunch program we had every Wednesday. The parent returns work done thereby allowing us to observe and see what might be going on and also to provide support for parents thrown into the role of a teacher on top of many other responsibilities they have.

This may not be the perfect solution but we are so far away from any resources that a city could provide, we have low income families, unemployment, and it is what we feel we can do and what seems to be working, for now. There are hopes that rural schools may be able to open if there are no cases of the infection within a certain radius, but that too is a big IF.

What makes us laugh and makes us cry is when we see the children and many who have been in our program but are now in grades 1 – 3, and they say “But we aren’t sick, why can’t we come to the school?” Hard to explain that to a 5-year-old.

There are many needs in today’s world, should our school and story create an urge in you to help in many ways please see our section on donations.

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