#19 Teach Children Literacy
I focus a lot on adult literacy, because I want each believer to be able to feed themselves from the written Bread and Meat that is available to the children of God. But there are huge groups of kids in this community, and if I can teach them to read and write in their own language, it will help them and save me some work in the future. Some days it doesn’t seem like I’m saving myself work, but I am convinced that is true.
Every week I have two children’s classes at my home. I have about 20 first through third grades (is it possible it seems like 50?) and another class of about 30 fourth through eighth graders.
Each week I decide which syllables to teach and then make up about 12 pages of worksheets and homework. Then I get to help the kids do those pages, and then grade them later when they make their way back to me.
Although the kids seem to like worksheets (go figure!) and genuinely are sad if there’s no homework (crazy kids!), one of the main appeals of each week’s class is getting to check out library books. Each week the kids pour over the books and carefully chose three to read during the week. We have a pretty big collection of Spanish picture books and a decent collection of Nahuatl children’s stories, as well. I pick a story each week, too, as a read-a-loud, hoping to foster a culture of reading in a place where that is not typically a thing.
Some days, when I’m in the middle of making endless worksheets, or taping up books that are falling apart, or checking big piles of homework, I wonder why I signed up for this. But at other moments, I remember clearly why I did.
When I walk by the school and 6 little dudes call out, “Hi, Katie!” and smile at me, I remember that I am getting to know kids from family groups with whom we previously had no interactions. When I tell a student–who in school has been labeled “donkeyish” because of his inability to learn–that he is doing a great job, I know I am showing love to a child who desperately needs it. When 3 Jr. High boys stay after class to ask me my opinion about something, I know I am earning the right to speak into their lives. And when my next door neighbor’s son brings me a picture book of the Nativity story that he wrote in Nahuatl by himself, I remember that these children, too, need to be able to read the Word.