During end of the school year conferences this week we discovered just how behind many of our girls are. We had an idea of it as we were helping with homework every day, but now that we have report cards in front of us things are looking pretty dismal.
The little girls especially have a lot of catching up to do and most of them will be repeating their grade next year. In the meantime, I'm teaching summer school to the five girls, Kindergarten through second grade, who still don't know they're alphabet. This only begins to chip away at the work ahead of us. Addition, spelling, division, sciences...there's work to be done in nearly every subject of every grade level. I can think of dozens of causes for this situation. There are not enough adults to go around when it comes to supervising the girls' academic life, the hogar and teachers are not in very good communication, the girls, likely because of their family situation, still lack a lot of skills and traits necessary to succeed in school, the girls are constantly offering to do each other's homework, by the middle (or sometimes the first day of classes) of the year they're too behind to catch up so they just fall further and further back because no one realizes it, etc.
In the meantime, the girls still want dance lessons from me, voice lessons from Johanna, and piano lessons from the both of us. I think I've also been volunteered to teach guitar, or at least that's what the sign up sheet on the wall suggests. I want so badly for these girls to have the opportunity to try these things. Their environment and background create a great need for opportunities to learn some self-confidence, discipline, perseverance, self-expression, respect for self and others, etc. Music and dance lessons are great opportunities for all of this, but when placed along side the academic needs as well, I feel completely overwhelmed. I know I can't offer everything I want to or everything they need. For now I'm just trying to offer everything I can.
5:15 prayer with the hermanas
6:00 running with any girl who wants to give it a shot (it's been a blast to see them get in to this and stick with it even though it's tough at first)
7:00 breakfast, washing clothes, scripture, etc
9-12 summer school with the little ones
2 Enlish class (high schoolers MWF, hermanas Tuesday)
3-6 Piano lessons, patroling the computer room, homework help, and (somehow it's going to be fit in starting this week) dance class
6 prayer with the girls
6:30 dinner with the hermanas and any extra homework help, dance, etc with the girls if there's energy left over from the day
8:30 Salesian goodnight and "house meeting"
I love it and see the importance of every bit of it...but sometimes I can't wait for Saturday. It's really discouraging to be running from English class to a piano lesson, trying to think whether the song on the radio would be good for the teen dance class, fumbling with your keys to open the computer room to tell the girls to quit playing, and then a little girl comes up with her favorite book and you have to tell her you don't have time to read it to her. I like being here, I like being busy, I like everything I'm doing. I just wish it could be enough.
PS: anyone want to move to Bolivia for the year and help out? We could use another volunteer (ladies only).