Laptops for Children (Net books) arrive in Ometepe

Educational computers have assisted the English Club in Mérida (Ometepe Bilingual School), Ometepe for the past two years by engaging children in learning programs and increasing interest in the club, thereby increasing enrolment and student retention throughout the program. The program is hosted by the Hacienda Mérida Hostel and the Fundación Ometepe, and is only possible with the use of volunteer teachers who can give a minimum of two weeks of their time to work with the children. The children learn the basics of English such as colours, numbers, and key phrases. More advanced students learn verbs and are able to make sentences in past, present, and future tenses. Prior to the introduction of computers to the class, attendance was sporadic and only a few students would attend on a regular basis, as a result it was difficult to maintain lesson plans and to make real progress with the children. In addition, we have found it has been difficult to retain the children's attention as students would often become easily distracted by each other and the beautiful weather in Ometepe. However, since the introduction of computers, everything has changed. The students are very enthused and excited to attend classes and are interested in learning how to type and generally use a computer.

By familiarizing these students with the use of computers, we are equipping them with tools for the real world, in which computers are commonplace for a variety of educational purposes and occupations. The students' use of computers has allowed the club to instigate good manners and etiquette among the children, as they have to learn to share each machine and be patient in learning how to navigate software and keyboards, as well as assist each other with learning. Having computers has also improved the teacher's ability to discipline the children with surprisingly good results. Good behavior and kind students are rewarded through the repeated use of the computers whereas students who do not share or are aggressive in class forfeit their computer privileges. Imposing these rules continually motivates the children to behave during class.

It is vital that these computer courses continue in order to continue to evolve these children's levels of education. As a result of an increase in demand the club must obtain an increasing number of educational programs that can assist in teaching children to read, write and speak English. Obtaining computers has provided a crucial first step for instilling continuity within the Hacienda Mérida English club and increasing students' interest in learning.