Friday, December 07, 2018

Sumando con Dinosaurios!

I have friends (Mexican citizens) who run an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico. It’s called an orphanage but many of the kids there are not orphans, but kids whose parents cannot take care of them for a variety of reasons. I first visited/volunteered in the summer of 2000, as a new teacher, helping some kids get up to speed before the school year started in the fall. I quickly learned much more from any of them than they learned from me, and try to go back every year, keeping in touch when I am not there.

This orphanage is called Pilar de Esperanza (pillar of hope) and it truly is a hopeful place. It is set up to be a family, with some of the original kids now staying on as young adults and helping out. One of the other adults running the place is from Holland but has lived in Mexico for 20 years, calling herself now “Dutch-Mexican.”

The kids at Pilar mostly go to school in the city of Reynosa (the orphanage is a few miles outside the city limits), but some of the youngest or most academically behind students are taught on the premises. Their teacher, Paulien (the Dutch-Mexican woman) thinks of creative ways to teach with very limited resources, and I was happy to play a very very small part in their math class recently.

A friend was cleaning out her house and gave me a bunch of small plastic dinosaurs, thinking (correctly) that I’d know what to do with them. I gave two to a child I work with at home, and they were a HUGE hit. One had spikes and one had flippers so he obviously named them Spikey and Swimmy. He did his whole lesson with me in Spikey and Swimmy’s voice, and told his mom that it was the best lesson EVER. He has since reassured me that Spikey and Swimmy live in his closet but there’s a small window that they can see out of so that they don’t get sad. (I love children).

The rest of the dinosaurs went to Paulien and she is using them for prizes and also for addition! I’m sure the kids were thrilled to be “sumando con dinosaurios!” (Adding with dinosaurs).

Any time you can make math a little more fun for kids, it sticks in their head better!