Won't you be my neighbor?

A child in Core AM shows off her neighborhood TYO’s Core Child Program encourages creativity, allowing children to use their imaginations to re-imagine the world. The dynamic psychosocial program, which was recently enhanced in partnership with Columbia University, utilizes an array of methods within the primary spheres of development- cognitive, physical, and emotional- to train children to consider their experiences through multiple lenses. In doing so, TYO hopes to lay the groundwork for a more analytical and empathic generation of leaders.

The psychosocial curriculum is designed in what can be imagined as a series of concentric circles, with each week building upon the last. Following last week’s focus on family, this week children in the Core AM program are learning about neighborhoods. While seemingly straightforward, this can be a rather confusing concept for TYO’s youngest beneficiaries- most of whom are growing up in large extended families.  For these children, their families are also their neighbors and thus the main challenge for children in this week is to add a new lens through which to view members of their extended family- ‘neighbor.’ Core Child Teacher Ahmed explains that children in his class were surprised to learn that their neighbors could be a mix of both family and strangers. For most children, this revelation piqued their interest in learning more about their surroundings- wanting to learn about all of their neighbors- not just the family who happens to be neighbors.

As children learn about neighborhoods, they also learn how their own behaviors can impact others within the community- consequently learning about boundaries and acceptable behavior. Children growing up in large extended families are accustomed to being disciplined from multiple sources- parents, older siblings, older cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. Ongoing feedback from such a variety of sources tends to overwhelm young children and makes it difficult for them to focus when first placed in a more structured environment- such as they will encounter in a formal academic setting. Given this fact, TYO places considerable emphasis on providing children with a predictable daily routine to help them develop the focus needed to excel in school. In doing so, TYO helps children to develop healthy boundaries, which in turn teaches children how to behave and interact in a broad range of life situations and relationships. That being said, establishing boundaries can not be effectively mastered in a week and as such this physical development goal is carried throughout the duration of the Core Child Program.

Ahmed helps a child in Core AM construct his neighborhood

- Ahmed Al Khateeb, Core Child Teacher and Jessica Dargiel, Deputy Director