HCA runs PEP+ classes in three different locations around El Porvenir. Per the weekly schedule, Volunteers are assigned to the PEP-Centro, PEP 2, or PEP 3 classroom. HCA provides morning & afternoon classes to accommodate all of the children in El Porvenir. Elementary age children go to school either in the morning or afternoon, so those who go in the morning come to HCA’s afternoon classes and vice versa. HCA also runs some specialty classes: PEP-Kinder, English Club for young teens, and PEP-Adultos, a free English class for adults in the community. However, those are all on different days of the week and follow different structures. The five main PEP+ classes follow the same general schedule and run in morning and afternoon sessions Monday-Thursday and also on Friday morning.
Morning classes are 9-10:30 AM (mixed ages) and afternoon classes are 1:00 – 2:00 pm (grades 1-2), and 2:15 – 3:45 pm (grades 3-6). Volunteers must arrive at least fifteen minutes early in order to set up the classroom and review the plan for the day.
Class is always run in the same order: Free-Time, Circle-Time, English Immersion, Snack, Spanish Literacy, Activity One, Activity Two, and then Final Circle. A few days in advance, Each volunteer is assigned to lead one part of the class but all volunteers participate and assist in the full class as well as being responsible for bringing either snack, kindles or computers, and/or other materials for each activity.
The first fifteen minutes of class is ‘Free-Time’ and is dedicated to playing games. The kids play board & card cards, dominos, solve puzzles, build objects with blocks, solve memory games, and much more in order to get their minds “prepared” for learning and creativity throughout class.
Following Free Time is ‘Circle-Time’. All of the children and volunteers sit on the floor in a circle. Everyone introduces themselves by saying their name and age (in English) and then answering a question of the day. For example, if the question of the day was “what is your favorite sport”, a volunteer or student would reply “My name is __ , I am _ years old, and mi deporte favorito es _ (or) my favorite sport is ____ .”
Once everyone has introduced themselves, the children are asked to review the class rules about how we treat each other, including the three main behaviors that are absolutely not tolerated: racism, sexism, and sexual behavior. After the rules are reviewed, the plan of the day is explained before “changing the language” to English.
Next is ‘English Immersion’. During this time, volunteers lead an activity (a game, vocabulary review, etc.) speaking only in English. Speaking slowly, while using big hand motions and exaggerated facial expressions is encouraged during this time in order for the children to understand what is being said to or asked of them. English Immersion is not to introduce new vocabulary to students, but rather to allow them to become familiar with hearing words in English and connecting the dots.
After Immersion is ‘Snack’. The children wash their hands, and enjoy a healthy snack prepared by HCA’s healthy snack intern with the assistance of other volunteers. Volunteers provide the students with plates/bowls, cups, and utensils. Many children do not have access to healthy food choices at home, so volunteers must encourage students to at least “try” vegetables, fruits, baked chicken, salads, and other healthier options that they may not typically eat outside of class.
After snack is ‘Spanish Literacy’ time (and the language is “changed” back to Spanish). The children are encouraged to write and/or read in Spanish. Once a week, each class uses either tablets or computers to read books or practice typing. Some activities have included reading a book and having students act it out, or typing lists of household items. Whatever the activity, this time is dedicated to students improving their ability to read and write in Spanish.
Morning classes only have one activity following Spanish Literacy and afternoon classes have two activities. These activities are usually creative art projects, information on nutrition, an introduction or review of new vocabulary, sometimes field time where the children go out to the field and play, and much more; it all depends on the curriculum unit and primary lesson of the week. Each activity lasts about 15-20 minutes before “Final Circle.” During Final Circle, students are usually asked what was their favorite activity of the day, when the next class is, and at what time. They are then released from class and volunteers spend a few minutes afterward, cleaning up the classroom and reviewing how class went. ‘Behavior Tracker’ sheets are used to track attendance, responses to the snack of the day and students’ behavior in the classroom. They should be filled out after each class. This concludes a typical HCA class.
As far as HCA’s speciality classes, PEP-Kinder is thirty minutes (8-8:30am) of English immersion, three times a week at one of El Porvenir’s public kinders. English Club is one hour (4-5pm) of English immersion for older children who are interested in learning more or perfecting their English at the PEP 2 location. PEP-Adultos is one hour and a half (6-7:30 pm) of English immersion, three days a week for older teenagers and adults who want to learn or perfect their English at the PEP-Centro location. Volunteers either work both Kinder and English Club classes, or PEP-Adultos (as adult class is longer and requires much more planning). The Google Doc has schedules, curriculum outlines, worksheets, activity ideas, and materials useful to all HCA classes and volunteers use the Google Doc to plan every class.”
In addition to class time, volunteers have scheduled time to work on Community Outreach, Home Improvement, and Snack Prep. Community Outreach is when we do activities within the community or online to let people know about HCA. This includes social media outreach to help recruit additional volunteers or financial donations. Home Improvement includes activities to maintain and improve the classrooms and volunteer houses. This will generally include painting, light building projects, small repairs, etc. The Healthy Snacks program provides a snack to all of the children who attend the PEP+ classes. Volunteers doing Snack Prep will be scheduled to assist in purchasing supplies and preparing these snacks. There are pre-tested recipes so cooking experience is a plus, but not required.
Many thanks to recent volunteer, Kateal Washington, for compiling this very helpful description for future volunteers!