For Our Language: Challenging Today to the Prepare for the Future

Mahmoud teaches Arabic to children in Core AM. This has been my second session working at Tomorrow's Youth Organization as a teacher in the Core Child Program. In addition to teaching TYO's standard psychosocial curriculum, I also teach Arabic to 4 & 5  year old children enrolled in Core AM. Teaching Arabic has truly become a highlight of my time at TYO, as each day reminds me of my own childhood. I remember in first grade when I was challenged to write letters in classes-  but my parents couldn't afford to send me to preschool, so I entered grade school completely unprepared. My classmates already knew the letters and could engage with teachers more. In full honesty, I felt like I was the dumbest child in the world. I wish someone explained to me that the reason wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough- but I hadn’t been exposed to experiences like other kids.

These experienced helped shape my interest in becoming a teacher- I knew I could be compassionate to children. Believing that children have the capacity and the ability to learn- and they can memorize things and record experiences in their minds to use when needed- every day, in my class, I challenge myself to teach children new things. I want all of the children at TYO to leave class each day with the understanding that she/he is unique and smart.

The main goal of Arabic class is to teach 4 and 5 year olds Arabic letters. I need to  prepare children mentally and cognitively to learn things, build their communication, and their expression of emotions. At the same time I try to create a supportive environment that helps children feel welcome, ask questions, and make mistakes. My children, who are coming from the most disadvantage areas, face difficult situations that aren’t just financial- they’re coming from parents who don’t encourage education, and don’t understand the importance of early childhood education.

My job doesn't stop in the classroom. It is also my responsibility to reach out to parents to educate them as to how to better treat their children. The hardest part is when children have learning disabilities or speech problems, and they need treatment, but parents think that will make them spoiled, so they treat them harshly instead. This creates a misunderstanding, and causes the child to hate education.

Fortunately, we have organizations in Nablus who can help treat children with such challenges- a major task of my job is to create a network between parents and family, and this organization. Everything is for the child’s benefit. Children take their homework from inside the class, and are proud to be on the TYO buses- they have a story to tell their parents. Most importantly, they are telling their parents that they are good enough, and that they can learn.

There’s one story I will never forget – I handed out tracing sheets of letters, and one child- a young girl- did it less than 2 minutes. She told me she knew she was capable of writing her name- but she wanted to learn how. I showed her how- and she traced it, and tried to copy it. I was so embarrassed as a teacher, because I put low expectations on the child. I tried to hold her hand to help her trace it, but she refused- saying she could do it herself. I was so proud of her.

-Mahmoud, Core Child Teacher