Investing in Children, Investing in Parents
TYO’s Core Child Program (CCP) teachers held a final round of meetings with their students’ parents in the refugee camps and Old City this week. The goal of the meetings was to hear from parents about the program’s impact on the children. Throughout this session, the CCP teachers have worked hard to engage parents in their children’s non-formal education and psychosocial development. Sixty-three percent of the parents who were invited to the final meetings attended them, demonstrating a dramatic improvement in parental involvement compared with past sessions. While both mothers and fathers were encouraged to attend, mostly mothers participated in the meetings. The mothers' comments revealed that they are aware of their children’s activities at TYO and committed to complementing those activities at home.
Across the board, parents noticed that their children had mastered several concrete skills over the course of the session. The mothers noticed that their children wanted to practice good hygiene at home, just like they do at TYO. One mother told Ala' that her daughter now regularly announces, “Mom, I’m going to brush my teeth!” and several children have explained to their parents why soap is a crucial part of hand washing. After learning about traffic and safety, the children began to explain the colors in traffic lights to their mothers. They told their parents when it was safe to cross the street and the best way to do it. Most importantly, throughout the session, the children have loved sharing their new knowledge with their parents, strengthening the parent-child relationship and the children’s ability to express themselves.
Beyond concrete skills, many parents noticed significant changes in their children’s behavior and psychosocial wellbeing. Some mothers noted that their children were aggressive and disobeyed orders before coming to TYO. Now, their children are much calmer and more self-directed. They manage their time effectively, use the bathroom by themselves, and try to resolve conflicts without fighting.
For example, one group of mothers asked Haitham how the teachers help the children resolve conflicts in the classroom. They had overheard their children telling each other, “Slowly, slowly, so I can understand what you’re saying.” The mothers were amazed to hear their children mimicking Haitham’s words to help them resolve their own conflicts at home.
Likewise, one mother told Jawwad that her son, Khaled, used to yell at and attack his younger sister when she tried to take something from him. Now, he asks his sister to stop and ask for permission. Of his own volition, five-year-old Khaled is spreading positive efforts at conflict resolution throughout his world.
These are just two of many stories that the parents shared with the CCP teachers. Nearly every mother saw positive changes in her child due to his experiences at TYO. Moreover, the mothers expressed a strong desire to stay engaged in their children’s development. They asked for parenting classes to help them learn non-corporal forms of discipline. They also asked the teachers to share their lesson objectives and activities at the beginning of each week, in order to help the parents to follow up on those skills and activities at home. Some mothers expressed interest in using the same stories at home that their children are reading at TYO.
TYO’s parents, children, and teachers alike have invested much in learning this session, and it is precisely this collective investment of dedicated teachers and engaged parents that has made this session a resounding success.