Our most frequent request from the parents is to have English classes. The community knows that by learning a second language it would give their child an advantage in the job market and educational opportunities. Especially in Cusco, which is largely based on tourism, it opens up more jobs opportunities.
Our in-depth programme was created by a specialist ESL teacher. It has proven success as one of our students even won a city-wide English competition.
Tarea (homework) is one of our most important classes at Picaflor. Students filter in and out of the room to get help from a dedicated teacher to get help on any subject they need. Many students aren't able to receive help on their homework from their parents at home. Some simply don't have the time due to the long hours they work. Others struggle with the material themselves or are illiterate. This class makes sure that our students complete and understand their work and as a result receive better grades in school.
Mathematics is one of our core initiatives at Picaflor; there is maths class everyday for all of our students. While Maths is a core subject at public school many of the children in Oropesa still struggled with simple addition or multiplication. Thanks to the great work of our dedicated Maths teacher, the students are Picaflor have significantly improved their Maths skills. Not only will this benefit their grades at school, but will also improve opportunities for future education or jobs.
Reading and writing comprehension in Spanish is quite low for our students. Many factors play into literacy rates in the Oropesa area. It is a Quecha speaking community where Spanish is a second language for many students. Many don't begin learning until they are sent to primary school. Even then, their parents are not able to help them with their homework or read to them because they do not speak Spanish themselves.
Another factor is that the under-funded government schools often don't have the resources. Many of the second-language learners fall behind because they aren't given the assistance to make the transition.
It is one of our initiatives to improve literacy rates. We have a dedicated communications teacher who concentrates on building the correct foundation in Spanish. We also have a book sharing programme with our sister project, La Pagina en La Puerta, where we bring new books to Picaflor every month. By giving access to books and education, we are improving our students literacy rates.
Our most recent figure says that 22 kids go missing a month in Cusco. Unfortunately, many kids are left on their own as their parents have to work long hours outside the home. It is normal for children to get themselves to and from school on their own. In particular, Oropesa is a rural community where you have to walk hours to get around, sometimes in the dark. This leaves children open to to a variety of dangerous situations.
It is due to these startling figures that we started a Child Safety Programme here and additionally in our Cambodia project as well. The programme contains 10 lessons that vary from safe touches to online safety. You can learn about the programme in-depth here.
Picaflor House not only provides education in formal subjects, but we also strongly believe that our students should have access to creative subjects! Arts and crafts are great for the students, including the little kindergarteners. It helps them to develop motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination, encourage self expression and promotes innovation and creativity.
Art is usually a subject left behind in the public schools. Public schools in Peru tend to emphasise only maths, communications, and science. Our students are able to learn in different ways and learn about their strengths outside of traditional fields. Art class is always a favourite at Picaflor House!
Traditional dances embeds much of the Inca History and Culture; and therefore are an important avenue for children to learn about them. Plus, it is a fun activity for students to express themselves. We have classes at least twice a month to learn, practice, and have fun. Dancing is an important outlet that is enriching to the students physically and emotionally. At the end of the year during our much anticipated Chocolatada (Christmas celebration), the children put on costumes and perform in front of their teachers and family.
It is important for the developing brain to be active and have at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Before and after lunch, our students have the opportunity to go on our playground. However, structured sports can provide a different environment to practice their leadership skills. Participation in sports is very important to children's social and physical development. On the field, they learn how to strategize, work on a team, and communicate. Picaflor House hold sports classes and games days for the students to enjoy some sporting fun!