Matthew, a 5th grader, has been studying guitar at INTEMPO since 2016, and his brother, Jacob, a 1st grader, has been studying violin since 2019. Both boys are passionate about music and bring a lot of energy to their weekly classes. Their mother, Estephanie, says her sons enjoy their lessons and feel proud of the progress they are making in music, and she appreciates the additional support they are getting through INTEMPO’s literacy initiative. “Reading comprehension has been a challenge for both of my children,” she says. “The tutoring they’re receiving has affected them positively. They feel more confident now, because they have someone to help them in whatever area they need.”
Matthew’s tutor, Cinthya Perez-Martel, says Matthew has come a long way since she started working with him. He is more mature, his attention span has improved, and he is learning coping skills that are helping him better deal with setbacks. “When I first started working with Matthew, he couldn’t accept help,” she says. “He would rush ahead without waiting for directions or correction, and he would act impulsively when he was frustrated. At other times, it was challenging to get him to participate.” With tutoring and socioemotional support, Matthew is now better able to follow directions and is eager to answer questions. His mother says that he can work more independently and doesn’t rely on her as much to help him with online learning. She appreciates the fact that Cinthya has accompanied her to meetings with Matthew’s public school teacher, to discuss goals and to advocate for him and to help her understand how his learning challenges can best be addressed.
As for Jacob, tutoring is helping him develop an even better ear for English, according to Cinthya. “Jacob has always met the reading benchmarks for his grade,” she says. “But his mother was concerned that he might fall behind because he doesn’t speak English at home.” She was on to something: research is showing that because of school closures due to the pandemic, children who live in non-English-speaking households not only have lost valuable opportunities to improve their English language skills through in-person social interactions with English-speaking peers, but they are losing ground because of their isolation. Jacob’s tutoring sessions with Cinthya provide a good counterweight to this problem. “Jacob’s comfort level with speaking English is growing,” she says. “He’s more vocal in sessions, he participates more, and he’s gaining confidence in his ability to speak English and to be around people outside of his family.”