Homeschooling in Russian Orphanage

I recently became acquainted with a woman in Russia, who just received permission from the government to try homeschooling in the orphange she directs. Needless to say she is very excited but also sees a huge task before her to get things right and prove the option to self-school these girls can be successful. The orphange consists of 76 girls from the age of 16 down with roughly 10 helpers at the facility that perform tasks to keep the facility running. How would you orchestrate this process? Suggestions have run the gamut from relying on technology to packaged curriculums to start the process. I suggested to the woman to start off simply and take the process slowly allowing herself flexibility to innovate because she may have a very limited budget. Another thing I mentioned to her was to talk to her staff and find out if any of them have talents in the arts or math and sciences, which they are willing and able to share. It is conceiveable that this orphanage has a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be explored.

The one room schoolhouse approach could be a wonderful asset in this situation with many different ages and learning styles involved daily. Children benefit greatly in these situations when they do lessons individually and then allow older children to act as tutors and mentors to the younger children. This situation builds bonds and encourages confidence building. The older children learn to explain what they have learned and this cements the knowledge for them. The younger children get the hands on attention they need to learn especially in a setting where staff is limited. All of the children form bonds and nuture relationships akin to family ties, which I see as something great for the girls in the orphanage. The transfer of knowledge between generations has long been part of every culture and this is definitely something all of these young girls can feel and benefit from.

Group projects at the orphanage can encompass all of the children working together across all age groups. In our family my four children would assign tasks themselves and hold each other accountable, as they worked to pull the project together. This process not only builds confidence but also teachs children to listen, communicate affectively and exercise patience. These group projects also help the children learn where their talents and strengths lie and should encourage them to find their life’s passion and follow it. The staff at the orphanage is feeling the weight of this project but I encourage them to embrace the opportunity and be willing to learn with the children, as children inevitably share the joy of learning with all around them. My best wishes to these women and children.

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