Nairobi with her mother, Reyna, at the Fabretto Education Center’s library in Estelí.
Is it possible to teach your 4-year-old to read? For Reyna Gutiérrez, it all depends on the time parents dedicate to their children and how eager they are in helping them learn.
Reyna is the mother of three girls and a primary teacher at the Fabretto Education Center in Estelí, Nicaragua. Through Fabretto, she has been trained in innovative methodologies such as Open Learning, which uses a play-based approach in order to motivate students throughout the learning process. “Children should not be receptors of knowledge from the teacher, on the contrary should be protagonists of their own learning,” says Reyna. However, according to the teacher, receiving the best education in class is not enough, a complementary factor is parent involvement. Something she has been able to do very well with her youngest daughter, Nairobi.
When Nairobi entered first grade she could not only read fluently, but also did better than most children her age. The national reading competition promoted by the Ministry of Education was approaching, and Nairobi was selected to represent her school. “They asked me to read a story in front of a lot of people,” she recalls. The judges valued intonation and fluency, and after careful consideration results were announced: Nairobi was the best reader in her age category across the entire city of Estelí. “When I heard that my daughter had won first place in reading at the municipal level, I felt very proud and even began to cry,” confesses the committed mother, who taught Nairobi how to read at only 4 years of age. Reyna remembers when her husband gave Nairobi her first book: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book many could refer to as complex for her age. “My husband and I did not do all that for our daughter to win a contest… we did it to stay close to her,” says Reyna.
The teacher and mother took advantage of her daughter’s desire to learn, dedicating at least one hour a day to teach Nairobi how to read. Reyna’s effort not only awakened Nairobi’s interest in reading, but also developed a strong mother-daughter bond. Today, Nairobi helps her mom create songs and games that Reyna later shares in class with her own students. “Sometimes she [Nairobi] would urge me to practice in order to become a good teacher. I am her mother but I also learn from her every day,” Reyna confesses with a smile.
Nairobi currently attends first grade of primary school and is a prominent student. She visits the Fabretto Education Center’s library often and chooses a new book to read every day. Reading has sparked Nairobi’s interest in wanting to learn new things and continues to be an activity that she enjoys sharing with her mother and family.
At Fabretto, we recognize the important role mothers play in the education and development of their children. Therefore, we implement workshops and promote parental involvement in school activities. In 2016, over 1990 parents –76% mothers– received training in educational techniques to help improve literacy skills. Our goal is to empower mothers and fathers from the most vulnerable areas of Nicaragua, providing them with the necessary tools to allow them to become the best version of themselves and improve their children’s futures.
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