Promoting long-term planning in the household
Inspired by my previous experience with Escuela de Padres (similar to a PTA), I decided to bring the idea to the school I was assigned to in my site - Luis Carlos Galan Sarmiento. The school really struggles with attendance, discipline, and parent involvement. It pulls from at risk barrios on the outskirts of town. Unemployment is high and funds are scarce. I work at the school during the afternoon, and have built a strong relationship with the afternoon school counselor. She approached me one afternoon asking me what more we could collaborate on to better the environment for the students - I asked her what her goals were. One of the goals she mentioned was parent involvement. I asked her if she would be interested in doing an “escuela de padres” and she immediately took to the idea, seeing the opportunity to talk about much needed topics such as drugs, teenage pregnancy, healthy discipline, and the importance of education. The same day, we planned out a schedule of classes that would start with a large meeting immediately following summer vacations, followed by a 7 session training program on the management of home finances and the management of the emotional environment in the home.
We met every other Wednesday from 3 to 5 pm. Each session began with the counselor giving a 30 min talk on topics for a healthy home. After her Charla, I would give a 45 min financial literacy Charla. The financial literacy course I ran with them, titled “Manejo de Finanzas de Hogar” (Home finances) was 10 hours. The course began with a 60-minute introductory lesson where we used community mapping tools to identify how financial literacy could help them better their lives and the community in which they live. Through group discussions, the class explained out what they wanted of the instructors, of their peers, and of themselves. The introductory exercises helped set a groundwork of teamwork and friendship that lasted the duration of the training. Other sessions included, but were not limited to, savings, time value of money, budgeting, and needs vs. wants.
Of the 28 that came to the informational meeting, eight decided to start the course. Over the 7 weeks of the course, one participant moved, one became too occupied, and 6 stuck out the full term. Of the six, three were literate. We did most of the work in groups and focused on speaking broadly about the topics in order to help the participants implement small changes in their homes that would lead to more long term financial comfort. The hardest part about delivering these types of trainings on the coast is the lack of a future mindset. It is hard to think about the future when you are worried about feeding your family today, but the course helps participants think about what they can do if they have a big pay day (save!!!) or what their options are if they are low on money one month. We held a small celebration for the parents, complete with cake and photos, to mark the end of their training. They want to find more participants and continue with an entrepreneurship course in the following months.