All in the Family

Hala shows off her family tree The second week of the Core Child Program focuses on the concept of family. It is important to root this idea with children early in their development, as their understanding of family is critical not only to their sense of identity, but also serves as an early lesson in tolerance and diversity. Family is the first formal social structure to which children are exposed, and while it is normal to have different family structure, this does not necessarily mean all children are comfortable with their family unit. By teaching young children that it is ok to be different, they learn to appreciate, rather than fear, differences.’ At TYO, a third reason it is important to address the concept of family early in the session is because of the prevalence of domestic abuse amongst our beneficiaries. It is important the Core Child Teachers gather as much information about children’s family lives as possible so there is time to refer the child and family to TYO’s Psychosocial Program Manager for an intervention if needed.

As is often the case in high poverty areas, domestic abuse is more prevalent than amongst the general population. For TYO’s beneficiaries, the lack of education, typically caused by early marriage has created generations of parents who never developed the higher level thinking skills and emotional maturity needed to properly process their own environmental stresses.

Core Child Teacher Shireen reports that during an activity in which children were asked to draw their family tree, several children indicated their older brothers or fathers hit them. Younger children were much more open about sharing such information verbally when asked questions about their family tree. Older children in the program were less verbal in sharing information about problems in the home. Instead, Shireen was able to discern problems based on the way children colored their projects- such as the colors and images depicted in art class.

For this reason, TYO program staff work closely together to ensure children are provided with a supportive and nurturing environment to mitigate the long term impact of an unhealthy home life.

-Shireen is a Core Child Program Teacher and Jessica Dargiel, Deputy Director