Reflecting on Progress in the Core Child Program

Mahmoud with children in his Core AM class With the end of the Fall Core Child Program session almost in sight, it is a good time to reflect back on the last 11 weeks to assess the progress children have made throughout the session. Oftentimes, no place is this more clear than in the halls of the Core AM program. As is oft reported, the first weeks of the program can be jarring for our 4 and 5 year old children- both new and returning to TYO. For many of them, this marks the first time in their young lives that they are spending time away from their families- and in some cases away from their refugee camps. Children must get used to being in a new environment with new guardians, new friends coming from parts of Nablus unfamiliar to them, and new experiences. To help children adjust, TYO emphasizes the importance of providing children with a consistent structure throughout their time at TYO- this means meeting every day at the same time, in the same place, following the same teacher, and even walking in straight single file lines as they move class to class (although anyone who has been in TYO the first week of the program can attest the lines are never quite straight at first!). Adjusting to the new environment unusually involves a lot of crying, pushing and shoving in line, and silly fighting over 'who took whose' crayons in Arabic class. This is why week 11 of the program- which focuses on Peaceful Problem Solving- can be a particularly rewarding week for the Core Child Teachers- as it allows them to really observe how far their children have come in such a short amount of time.

Core Child Teacher Mahmoud shares a proud moment from his class:

There was one child in my morning class who had been the source of many problems early on in the session. He's a sweet kid, but very hyperactive with a tendency towards violence- pushing, shoving, and pinching other children when he didn't get his way. Throughout the session I've been working with this child to control his reactions to situations and explain the importance of respecting his peers--- while trying to model what respectful behavior looks like. But just this week I was both shocked and so proud when this same child took the initiative to come up to me and say, 'Amo, someone hit me in line-- but I swear I didn't hit him back-- can you please come and help me?' Though sometimes it can seem like progress is slow- events like this make me realize that we really are successfully rooting the foundations of respectful behavior with our children. It's a great moment to realize when your teaching has been the source of positive change for a child. Sometimes it's easy to think I'm only helping one child, but looking around it becomes so clear how this child's improved behavior effects the entire environment around him. It's a true honor to be working in an environment where I know we are helping to build a stronger community by teaching our children values.

-Mahmoud Saleh, Core Child Teacher & Jessica Dargiel, Deputy Director

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)