This week I've been busy working Monday to Friday in a school set up by the local charity Lok Seva Sangam (LSS) in Sion, South Mumbai.
This school supports children aged between 3 and 10 years old. It took a while for me to figure out how best to explain things to the children as they all speak different local languages . For a majority of the children English is their 3rd language and I don’t know enough Hindi to speak to them in their 2nd language either!
The school is basically two rooms; one where the children have the lessons and support, the other is food prep and storage area.
There are 3 different classes
1) 9:30 till 11:30 is a support session for a class of around 9 local children who live in the slums and are aged between 6-10 years old. These children have very mixed abilities. You can easily tell the children that have been attending the classes for a while as they have a much higher ability of English speaking.
2) 11:30 to 16:00 is the kindergarten where most of the children are aged around 3 years old. In these lessons I mostly play with the children and teach them basic counting, writing and nursery rimes. This can include getting them to write on the mini chalk boards they have and getting them to practice number patterns.
3) 13:30 to 17:00 is a different session for a class of around 12 local children who live in the slums and are aged between 6-10 years old. I have spent much of this time working with one or two children either on their Maths or English; this can be supporting them work through a work book or the home work they have been set. The other thing I have spent a lot of time doing is helping the children revise for test they have to take at school. Its really great to know that what I have done helps the children I really enjoy seeing them improve as I work with them.
Possibly the strangest thing I've had to do while volunteering is actually having to write things by hand as this is something I’m really not used to doing, just ask anyone in the office how much I don’t write. This is something I have had to get used to. It’s a bit ironic that i’m teaching children English when I have dyslexia and an inability to spell (just ask Mel who had to turn my draft into something that you would all be able to read). Google has definitely become my friend in that respect.
One of the things that I found particularly fun was when we had the children write 42 different words such as ‘Black’, ‘White’, ‘’Chair’, ‘Table’ 5 times each. They often struggled to read some of these words out of context. Once they had got used to the words, to finish off the lesson and also have some fun, the teacher shows them the words written as if they were reflected in a mirror. Sometimes they got it without looking at the words in the mirror. When I tried write in mirrored writing it didn’t go so well at the beginning, much to the amusement of the children, but slowly I got used to it.
To find out more about the Lok Seva Sangam (LSS) charity, visit their website http://loksevasangam.org/