At HELP International, children are one of our top priorities. The children we work with in Moria hotspot on the Greek island of Lesvos are at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives. The average refugee child living in Greece has been out of school for between one and two years, and their educational needs differ from the norm. Many refugee children are transitioning from a conflict situation to normality. They have acquired survival and problem-solving skills, but lack the kinds of knowledge typically taught and assessed in schools. They also come from a variety of cultural, social, and economic circumstances. Actors working with refugee children also must pay special attention to language training. Many of the children we work with in Moria will eventually relocate to a European country where their native tongue is not the country’s lingua franca, and their ability to speak English will influence the chance they have to navigate and build social capital in their new community. To support them, we run an English education program as well as various social support activities to supplement their development and provide them with a sense of normalcy and routine in their sometimes-chaotic lives.
Children learn English through singing in Moria hotspot
Our informal education program focuses on helping vulnerable children develop basic English reading, writing, and conversational skills as well as teaches some elementary arithmetic and geometry. The majority of the children who attend our classes are between the ages of five and twelve. The volunteers who teach in our classroom utilize a variety of teaching methods in order to accommodate the various learning styles of the children we support. The kids sing, play games, test their skills, memorize vocabulary, practice sight words, and learn essential phrases. Older children receive homework assignments and individualized tutoring outside of regular class time. To track attendance and make our classroom a safe space, we use a sticker chart that rewards kids for coming to school and behaving well.
We also hold activities several times a day to allow children time to play. Some of their favorite activities are coloring, playing with chalk, jumping rope, and building with blocks. The blocks in particular have been a huge hit; playing with them allows kids to express their innate creativity, collaborate with each other, and develop problem-solving skills.
A child plays with blocks during an activity for children
Kids have a right to a healthy childhood and a quality education. The children we work with are in a transition period in their lives as they move from instability to a more permanent home. After living in Moria hotspot, they will move to the Greek mainland and receive formal instruction in Greek schools and later continue their schooling as they resettle in Europe or elsewhere. By providing them with informal education while they live in Moria, we aim to prepare them for formal schooling and restore a piece of normalcy to their young lives.
Adrian Glover, Greece Country Coordinator.