Core Program: First Week Recap!
For many, Monday mornings represent just the start of another work week- but at TYO, this past Monday kicked off the start of the latest Core Child Program session. As the clock reached 9:00 AM, approximately 80 children ages 4-5 in our morning program arrived for their first day- and soon enough, our center was yet again filled with the sounds of our signature TYO Cheer and Core Program teachers taking attendance. By the afternoon, our Afternoon Program began, with nearly 90 children ages 6-8 streaming inside. Joined by local volunteers both new and old, the Core Program launched the start of a season of fun, non-formal education, and learning through play. Over the next 12 weeks, our activities and classes will be concentrating on two main themes: me and my community, and communication. These topics were selected to expose children the idea that they are valuable in- and responsible for- their community, which boosts their identity and sense of belonging. This is very important in Palestine- over our observations in past programs, we have learned that children might experience fear or unorganized thinking about their community, particularly if they've witnessed violence in their neighborhood.
Through our previous sessions as well, we also noticed much miscommunication between children in the classrooms- children were often unable to express their feelings, or jumped to impulse reactions. Over this session, it is our goal to help children name their feelings, connect their feeling with their thoughts, and work in groups to find solutions to their problems. If children learn these communication skills in early ages, it roots critical thinking and healthy emotional expression in them for life.
To share a few highlights from the week, here's a glance at what some of our classes covered during the first few days:
- Providing a Safe Space: For some students in the Morning Program, their trip to TYO might be one of the first time they're away from their parents- and to ensure they have a smooth adjustment, we worked on building security and trust by using types of music therapy to release stress, and reading stories related to leaving home for a little while. Further, individual meetings with myself (TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager) helped children especially struggling- and by the end, nearly all children had showed progress and lessened anxiety about leaving home.
- Afternoon Program: In our Afternoon Program, most children were already familiar with TYO- but to help everyone adjust to the first week, we utilized tools like sports, health class, music, and art to help children adjust to the program, and improve their emotional, cognitive, and physical development.
- Eagerness for Education: An exciting aspect for me this week was witnessing the amount of children very eager and ready to receive homework help- in our Afternoon Program, many children came with backpacks and expressed their desire to complete their schoolwork successfully. It was warming to witness this excitement- and as it came from many children who have been with TYO for previous sessions, it demonstrated some of the real progress made through our programs.
So as we continue through this session, stay tuned for updates, photos, and more!
Suhad Jabi Masri is TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager. Above, she writes about a recap of the first week of TYO's Core Child Program.