Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By David Pan 

Multicultural learning pod pops up in Mukilteo

 

Last updated 9/11/2020 at 12:29pm

Photo courtesy of Helen Li

Helen Li has started a multicultural learning pod that meets several times a week. On this day, Annalily Li-Nagy, Emily Li-Nagy and Eshanvi Avinash (right) enjoy a story.

Students in the Mukilteo School District headed back to classes last week.

Of course, what that really meant is students fired up their computers and went online, since the district does not have any in-person instruction due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

About a month after the start of the pandemic, Helen Li decided that she wanted to find a way to help her children and other children learn other than online.

Li launched what she describes as a multicultural learning pod in which her 5-year-old daughter Lily and some new friends got together for some hands-on learning.

Li realized that the community was interested in learning pods when some parents overheard her telling Lily a story as they were walking in the park one day.

"Some of the parents were paying attention," Li said. "They were intrigued and said they'd like to join us. They would call us for play dates. They wanted us to teach them Mandarin Chinese. I found it fascinating to see how much interest there was in having kids connect."

Li, who has a degree in international education and has taught Mandarin in both public and private schools, soon was fielding interest from other parents interested in joining the learning pod.

Lily met children from Africa, India, Russia, Ukraine and Korea.

"It's important for some kids to communicate and interact in person," Li said.

The learning pods meet from three to five times a week with children participating in different arts and crafts, science and language activities.

"I believe kids learn best when they learn different languages," Li said. "We listen to a story from different parts of the world each week."

The children aren't sitting back and listening to stories, though.

Photo courtesy of Helen Li

Field trips to the park are among some of the activities in Helen Li's multicultural learning pod. Annalily Li-Nagy and Eshanvi Avinash collect some rocks.

"We take turns with each child doing a show and tell in their own native language," Li said. "The parents and kids learn together in another language."

The children might read a story or play music from their native country.

Most of the children attending Li's learning pods are in the same age range as Lily – 5 to 6 years old.

"It's an age group where you really need a lot of focus, attention and hands-on practice," Li said. "It's hard to be 100% online. With masks and social distancing, we're able to manage with some play dates, picnics and outings to playgrounds."

The pandemic definitely has added to the challenges for many parents. Li sees learning pods as a bridge among families.

"A lot of children and families are stressed out," she said "We can turn this around by getting to know each other and learning together as a community."

For more information about Helen Li's learning pods email her at: [email protected]

 

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