The Joys and Trials of Tutoring on the Missions Field

As anyone who reads my blog regularly or knows me personally knows that I am in Cameroon for four months with a missions organization World Team. One of my main tasks while over here is to tutor a second grader named Annabella. I have worked as a college public speaking tutor and taught preschoolers Sunday school, but this was my first time teaching this age and teaching an actual curriculum. As I learn there have been many joys and many trials. I decided to share some of them with you all and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to homeschool on the mission’s field.

Joy: Really feeling as though I am doing my part to help out. On one of my first days in the rainforest, a visitor we had told me how tutoring was one of the most helpful things a short-termer could do. The reality of the situation is that even in four months, there is only so much I can do to help out. However, by tutoring missionary kids, I am able to help out the missionaries by allowing them to do what they came here to do. For example, Jenn helps out as a nurse. By tutoring Annabella in some of her subjects, I am giving Jenn time to help others on medical day without worrying about keeping up with school, or I’m just giving her downtime that she might not get otherwise.

Joy: Seeing progress close-up and personally. Tutoring or homeschooling is unique because you really get to watch the child grow. Even in just the month that I have been here thus far, I have seen Annabella’s skills get stronger in several different areas and that is so rewarding. It’s different from being in a classroom with lots of children at different levels because in this situation it’s way more intimate. I get to personalize what we’re learning specifically to her and because of that, I get to see her growth! It’s a really rewarding experience!

Although there are many more joys than the two I mentioned above, there are also someIMG_0494 struggles that I face.

Trial: She has other tutors to compare you to…and she WILL compare you. This was especially difficult to deal with the first couple weeks I was here. I had never tutored for homeschooling before and a lot of the first couple of weeks was just figuring out the best way to do things. Annabella has had many other tutors, including her mom, and as an outspoken second grader, she’s not afraid to tell me when she wants her old tutor or her mom back instead of me. It’s definitely hard to hear, but I just allowed it to push me harder to find different ways we could make homeschooling fun! 

Trial: FOCUS! This is definitely the biggest struggle for Annabella and probably for most kids in school. The most frustrating days for me as a tutor are the ones when I watch Annabella struggle with something that I know she knows. This happens often in reading. She won’t be focused so she’ll look at a word for half a second then start looking at me and guessing what word is on the page. I think these are the moments I get most frustrated because I know things could go by so much faster if she just focused. Some of the ways I’ve found around this though are giving her (and myself) a 10-15 minute recess or having her do jumping jacks or spin around to get some of her energy out!

There are definitely some days that I walk into the house and know it’s going to be a long day, but I thoroughly enjoy teaching and most days it brings me joy that I can only try to put into words. Is homeschooling something you’ve done? How has it gone? If you haven’t ever homeschooled, what are your thoughts on it?

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