They originally enrolled Manny in the program on the advice of their pediatrician. The closest preschool was two bus transfers from their apartment, too far away for Margarita to manage with no car and other children to take care of. Their doctor assured them that 10BH would be a good alternative to preschool and would be much more convenient for the whole family.
Manny was three and a half years old when his Role Model, Vicky, met with him for the first time in January 2015. Up until that point, he and his mother spoke no English, even though his older brothers and Federico do speak English. With a shy disposition, it was hard for Vicky and Margarita to get Manny to engage in lessons early on, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t trying.
Manny’s mastery of English has grown over time. To Vicky’s amazement, he was speaking fluidly in English with her within just 7 months:
“Manny's English fluency has improved so much. In our session today, he described the sequence of the Godzilla movie, the main characters, and then was able to offer opinions about the movie. He and I had a charged conversation on whether or not Godzilla is a good guy or bad guy. This is night and day from the first month where he would say thank you and hi and repeat only the things I requested of him.”
Manny, like many 10BH English Learners, took about 6-7 seven months to learn English well enough to verbally communicate about learning related concepts throughout lessons.
“It was great to see how quickly he mastered new vocabulary as we went through a word book together. He had a word book that displayed the words in English and Spanish, so while his mom helped him say the words in Spanish I would repeat them in English. It turned into a game and his mom gave him high fives when he said both the English and Spanish word.”
With his increased momentum picking up both English and Spanish, Manny’s parents have noticed a shift in their son’s ability to express himself and share his point of view.
“He’s developed a really impressive memory for things,” said Manny’s dad Federico, describing another trait of Manny’s manifesting itself in their lessons. “Vicky brought him a book recently and he said, ‘I’ve already got that book,’ and ran over to his 10BH bookcase and pulled out the book.
"He didn’t like reading as much at the beginning of the program," Federico continued. "When Vicky would ask him how many books he read that week, he would only say 1 or 2. Vicky started motivating him to get to the number 5 and he got really excited about reading 5 books; so much so that he would push us to read to him more to reach his goal.”
Now Manny will take initiative in asking his parents to read to him. Federico says with a smile that Manny will even get upset if they can’t read to him at that moment.
“He is really invested in the stories when he’s read to now,” he says. “When he sees something new he’ll ‘ask what is that?’ Or, ‘why did that happen?’”
Vicky has also seen a marked increase in Manny’s ability to focus on a single task over his past year in the program.
“When we first started it was hard to get him to stay with the lesson, so we were doing 10 or 11 activities in a lesson”, Vicky explained. “I think it was 4 or 5 months into the lessons before I could whittle it down to only about 5 activities a lesson. Now, we only do one or two.”
Vicky credits Margarita and Federico with much of Manny’s determination and engagement. From their very first lesson together, his parents have been 100% committed to the 10BH program. She described an activity she did with him that first day, which involved learning the names of colors.
“By the end of the lesson, I would say 'blue' and he would say 'blue' and his mom would say 'blue'”, Vicky said. “At the end of the lesson, I think we only had one color down. But when I came back the next week he knew all the colors. I mean all of them - gray, pink, brown, green. He had been playing the game all week!”
For Vicky, Manny’s parents’ dedication to continue practicing the 10BH activities throughout the week is what makes all the difference.
“We come to the lessons and I get an hour, which is no time at all in his week,” she said. “Then I come back and find out that his mom and dad and brothers have been practicing with him. If everything we work on, his parents work on with him too, it just amplifies everything we do together.”
The 10BH activities Vicky leaves behind for homework have transformed family time together. Federico explains that they are more playful with learning as a whole family. Vicky left a pin the tail on the donkey game for homework a few weeks ago, and that week the whole family played it together. Learning together is something they now enjoy as a family.
Vicky sees the fun Manny and his parents have together in their lessons, too.
“Last week we were reading a book about bugs that hop”, said Vicky, describing one lesson that stood out in her mind. “I said, ‘We should try hopping,’ and he was like, 'Oh, I don’t know.' At that his dad said, ‘I’ll race you!’ His dad had barely said the words before Manny was up off the couch and hopping around. When learning is fun and you’re getting the positive attention of your parents, it makes a big difference.”
Over the past year, Vicky and Manny have formed a strong bond. When Manny misses Vicky during the week, he often asks his parents to call her so he can talk to her. On the days when she is supposed to come over, he constantly asks them when she will get there. It’s a bond Vicky says is important to Manny learning to engage as a life long learner.
Being Manny’s Role Model is equally impactful on Vicky. She became a Role Model never anticipating the bond she could form with Manny.
“The reason I became a Role Model was for the same reasons that everyone else does. I really believe that if you can come into kindergarten speaking English, counting, writing letters, like my kids did, then you can start on an even field. As a Role Model, we can do that for other children. What a lovely gift!”
Education is a transformative experience for everyone involved. Manny has grown up in many ways over the past year, most notably in his grasp of English. Federico and Margarita’s involvement in Manny’s education drove him to be more engaged and focused on learning throughout the week. And, Vicky’s one hour a week commitment to Manny has dramatically increased the number of learning opportunities in his life.
With the 10BH program in their home, a whole new world of activities, conversations, and books has grown up around Manny. He has one more year as a Learner with 10BH, and all signs point to him being a lifelong learner.
- His engagement in activities
- His English vocabulary
- His confidence with language
- How much fun he's having!