|PROJECT||Future Changed ‘Kindergarten’|
|WHO||The children of Dallas Shanty Town|
|WHAT IS IT||Kindergarten that teaches 4-6 years old core subjects as well as social skills to enable them to integrate when they eventually go to school. The children are from the poorest families in the community|
|IMPACT||Directly impacts 20 children. Indirectly impacts 150+ people|
The project is run by our Future Changed Team -three teachers and a social worker. Every three months Mirela who leads the project, updates us on what the children have been learning.
The main theme of the month was “HOUSES AND HOMES”
No matter how beautiful, interesting, creative, educational, or fascinating is a certain place (when we visit or travel to another city or country, or maybe we are going into a trip, or to the kindergarten), and no matter how much we like it that place, nowhere we feel better and more comfortable than at home. This is true for both adults, and children, because our educational project organizes specific activities for the kindergarten, and of course we will talk more about what means at home or a house to children. If we ask a child “What is the place that he loves the most, and where he wants to spend the most time?”, he will answer ‘’AT HOME’’, because that is the place that gives him the security and trust he needs at this age. There he finds everything he knows, ever since he was born. For now, the child is aware only of the basic needs. He does not have the necessary abilities to understand the difficulties that the family sometimes go through, such as – lack of a job, financial insecurity, the stress of making sure as a parent that always have food for the child, situations of aggression and conflicts or deeds which sometimes degenerates into real dramas.
Children often ask: “When can we go home?” No matter how much attention and love the teacher give to them at the kindergarten, home where there is supreme love, which will bind them forever, for their whole life. It is a wonderful thing to know that at home someone is thinking of you and is waiting for you. The warm arms of the mother or the physical strength of the father are irreplaceable. Their smile and support give the child the peace and emotional balance that he needs. In that place he finds something that belongs only to him, HIS FAMILY.
In the first years of life, the child discovers for first time the world from his home. This can be an ideal home where he receives love, gentleness, encouragement, help, attention, positive discipline, effective communication, and especially emotional support; the child falls asleep next to his mother and favourite toy, sleep is sweet in his soft bed, with head on his favorite pillow, covered with a fluffy blanket. Or it may be the exact opposite, a place that causes fear, insecurity, anxiety, is much noise around, hears bad words, receives only negative emotions, or even more tragic, the figure of father or mother is missing from the child’s life and he feels lonely and sad. In this educational project, children find not only a kindergarten, but a place where team offers not only education, but also large portions of love.
The adults understand that a child needs balance from all points of view (emotional, social, cognitive, personal, behavioral). “A happy mother will raise a happy child and a hardworking father will raise a responsible child!” Because childhood is the basis on which the character of the future adult is built, it is necessary for each child to benefit from beautiful experiences and memories, to live in a welcoming home, to be happy with a loving family or responsible relatives, who gives the child much attention, a warm soul, patience, sensitivity and empathy, and the child to feel that is understood, accepted and loved for what he is, regardless of poor living conditions.
The child learns what the conditions are to create a pleasant atmosphere in his house. To respect the rules of common sense, have good manners, to be respectful with others, to accept household chores (but avoiding the overload of the child, which leads to physical illness, chronic fatigue, low school performance, irascibility, and unwanted behaviors). The tasks help them to become responsible, to feel useful, capable of doing things, to have high self-confidence and not to be afraid of challenges, to respect certain limits and to be involved in any activity that helps them to have a beautiful and healthy development.
In a home where the members communicate well and discuss any situation (or uses books to read stories to children), the children will learn to express their opinions, to have the courage to share feelings and problems. “Everything can be solved, if we know what the problem is”. “Communication is the key to peace for each home or in the kindergarten”. Children discover the power of words, develop their fluency in speech, vocabulary, imagination, but also emotional intelligence.
In the kindergarten, the children enrich their general knowledge with a series of useful information, which had the role of clearly establishing the difference between “What is a house?” and “What is a home?”. The children learnt how to choose the right place for construction, how to build a house correctly, what are the proper materials which can be used, who can build a house, what rules must be followed for a construction to be safe and durable, what utilities are needed, what furniture is needed, what hygiene rules must be observed, what expenses are made for a construction or for the payment of some invoices. To the question of “Can an uninhabited house be called at home?” the children answered in unison “No! People, with their voices, their laughter, their songs and the smell of cooked food give life to a house”.
The animals build a shelter for themselves and their babies, to avoid the dangers around them and the difficult weather condition. The animals make much effort, looks for and gathers useful things or materials in this sense. So, people, who are superior beings, should work, document themselves, learn, to take initiative, to make a plan to build or obtain a place that will turn them into a safe home for the whole family. Sometimes a house can be huge, beautiful decorated, full of interesting and valuable things, but inside it the family members, although they live together, still feel lonely and unhappy. This can happen to those who appreciate less the peace and joy of the family, but appreciate more the wealth, the material things and work all day until exhaustion.
A happy child once said: “If we are together, nothing else matters!” Some of the stories read to children during the lessons were: “Billy is building a house”, “A house for a mouse”, “A house for a crab”, “The child who does not help with household chores”, “Welcome to my house!”. Also, the children learnt a beautiful poem, ‘It is good at our home’!
The theme of the month was “OUR COMMUNITY”.
Last month we discussed how look like our houses and homes. This month we discussed about the place where the house is located, the exact address, the city, the country, about the surroundings (public institutions, factories, schools, hospitals, stores), but also, about our neighbors, waters, forests, and others. Each child and his family live in a community with other families. For a community to be united, several values are needed that must be respected by all members – solidarity, acceptance, respect, collaboration, involvement, initiative, trust, organizational spirit. The main topics discussed with the children were: My Kindergarten Community. My Neighborhood, My City, and the people who help us.
Each child was asked: “Do you know where you live?”, “How do we keep the neighborhood / city clean?”, “What traffic rules should be followed to be safe on the way from home to kindergarten?”, “Who are your neighbors?” “Can you describe your street or your room?”. (The answers were surprising, funny, correct, or wrong, but they helped us realize how necessary are the lessons on this topic for most of the children).
The rules of the class are beneficial and useful for a normal and civilized development, but also for a good organization of activities and order in class. Many of the children apply them successfully every day in the kindergarten, in their games with their classmates or during the lessons, but some of the children, need more time to improve their behavior or language. To help them in this regard, they answer the teacher’s questions every time when there appears to be a conflict or an unpleasant situation. In this way they recapitulate all the rules, again and again…For example: (Question): “Do you like to feel safe without getting hurt?” (Correct answer): “Yes, I want to be safe and not hurt myself, so I will not run, I will not throw objects, I will use sharp objects carefully, I will close the closet doors carefully, I will not splash the floor with water someone to slip, I will not hit other child”. (Question): “If you want to get your favorite toy from other child in class, how would you ask for it?” (Correct answer): “I will use the rules of politeness: Please, can you give me? Thank you!”; (Question): “Where do you put the toys at the end of the game?” (Correct answer): “In the properly place (on the shelf, in the box, basket)”; (Question): Can you focus on work when someone screams in class and there is a lot of noise around?” (Correct answer): “No! My head really hurts! It would be good to talk whispering.” (Question): “After you eat the sweets, where do you throw the packaging?” (Correct answer): “In the garbage trash!”; (Question): “If you want to learn new things and to become smarter than you already are, what do you have to do?” (Correct answer): “I should be more attentive at lessons, to look, to listen, to think, to ask questions and to practice all the information!” Of course, we could go on with many examples, but as a conclusion, the children understood how important the rules are, and that they are not actually forbidden anything. They only receive recommendations, advice and guidance appropriate for their age, to behave civilized and to use appropriate methods of communication and socialization, without disturbing those around or destroy the harmony of the group.
Other interesting topics discussed during the lessons were – avoid bullying, group integration and acceptance of all people regardless of how they look physically. The equal right to education, appreciation of the qualities of others, how to adapt faster and better to the changes in our lives, how to overcome your fear, shyness and to increase your self-confidence, how to recognize a true friend. Some of the stories read to children were: “Franklin in the Kindergarten”, “Ana Will Succeed”, and “A Dwarf in the Kindergarten”.
The children learnt useful information about their City, Iasi, a beautiful city, located on 7 hills. They were also able to express their opinion on how they could beautify their neighborhood and what changes would be needed, because the neighborhood where most children live is dirty, unsanitary, without running water and sewage, unpaved streets, sometimes flooded, damaged houses. The children proposed to plant trees and flowers, to paint the walls of the houses and the constructors to pave the streets. The stories used as teaching material were: “Something Beautiful”, “My Locality”, “Walking Through the City”, “About Pollution and Violation of Public Order”, “How to Protect the Environment”, and others.
The week in where we discussed “People who help us” was super interesting. Each child had the opportunity to discover the wonderful world of jobs, but also what they must do to fulfill their dream of becoming a doctor, firefighter, policeman, teacher or chef. They understood that. Each person has qualities, physical and cognitive abilities, talents or dexterity, strength, speed, insight, patience, and these characteristics are developed over time, studying the chosen field of activity, and all together, besides much responsibility, joy, and effort, help us all, TO BE THE BEST.
The stories read to children during the lessons: “The Policeman is my Friend”; “Kit and Kat Play with Fire”; “The Fire in our House”; “What is an Urgency and when we can call at number 112?”; “The Job’s Day”; “What do you want to become when you will grow up?”
The main theme of the month was “ABOUT PLANTS”
“One day, a young child was walking on the side of a country road, when suddenly a small tree appeared in his way. It was weak, with few branches, a few leaves, and the wind almost knocked him to the ground. From that day, the child passed by the tree every day and hugged the small trunk. The child watered the tree, he cleaned it from insects and dry leaves. The years passed, the child grew older, but at the same time the tree too. Now, our tree was tall, and the child could not embrace the thick trunk of tree anymore, his arms still was too short. The tree had many branches, thick and adorned with green leaves, the tree gave much shade around. All the travelers were resting in its shade and coolness, which is why it was called The Restful Tree. But one day, the child who was now a mature adult, could not find the tree anymore in the place that knew it so well, because the tree had been cut down. Sadness made him to plant a new tree every time he passed by that place. He could not live without the fresh air, shade, coolness, the rustle of the leaves, or the thirsty and strong roots.”
YES, the story is sad, but that man finally created a huge forest, which no one had the courage to cut. He was an example to other people who realized that a world without plants would become deserted and sick. No one would like to live in a place where there is no blade of grass, a fragrant flower, or a tree with tasty fruits. Because God, at the beginning of the world decided to create all these wonderful and useful plants for mankind, all of us should be grateful and show much respect for the whole nature.
During this month, the children learnt interesting details about the Garden, Flowers, Trees, Fruits and Vegetables. From the beginning, children learnt what are the ideal living conditions for plants, how a plant grows – each child planted a bean that has grown in time, and they could observe each stage of growing of roots, stem, leaves. What are the main parts of plants, what part of the plant is eatable, and which are the poisonous plants? They understood how important plants are for our lives, for different industries, but also for animals.
Children also learnt new notions (pollen, nectar, photosynthesis, chlorophyll), but also about the Sequoia tree, which is the tallest, and about the oldest baobab in the world. They understood that regardless of obstacles and oppositions, it is right to fight to implement a good and beneficial idea for all. We have the right to have good health, healthy food, and all people should be aware of the serious situation of the planet due to pollution and massive deforestation. People (some of them) should appreciate the beauty, the fragrance and the color of the flowers, the vitamins and the good taste of the fruits and vegetables and the pleasure of smelling the grass watered by the dew. Also, to protect and keep in suitable conditions the books and the furniture made of wood and to recycle more. It would be ideal if each of us would symbolically plant a tree, and then to think about this and to believe with all our being, that in this way we can save a person’s life, because the trees are the “lungs of the earth”.
The theme of the month was “MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION”
First, the children had to understand what it means the notion of transport, namely moving of people or of means of transport, from one place to another, at a certain distance, using a certain force. Transport is an activity that appeared with the existence of human. The fact that people began to travel from one area to another, for various reasons (personal, agricultural, for work and business), and the endurance of the human body is limited over long distances, in unfavorable condition of weather or surrounded by dangerous animals, determined people that over time, to discover and use a wide range of means of transportation.
At first, long ago, was used the animal traction, then, skilled engineers and inventors such as Karl Benz, Nikolaus Otto, Rudolf Diesel, Denis Papin, Richard Revithick, brought to mankind steam engines, gasoline, and diesel engines, but also the first cars or locomotives. Over time, land transportation has become the most common form of transportation for people and goods, for economic or tourist purposes. The air transportation is the fastest and is the most interesting because we are detached from the ground (no longer touch the soil or water) and feel like birds flying in the sky, metaphorically speaking. Water transportation (with ships, ferries, cargo ships, fishing boats, cruise ships or yachts, but also icebreakers) is the slowest way of transportation and it is often the most affected by the weather. It is used for the transportation of goods, oil, food nonperishable, or for tourist or military purposes. The first boats made by humans, looked like rudimentary canoes, obtained by carving tree trunks in the middle and they also made rafts from logs or bundles of cane tied with lianas or leather belts.
Because all means of transportation pollute the air, water, but also the earth, the inventors created engines that emit few polluting sources as possible. The electric motors are a solution but have a high cost and a long time to charge the batteries. Another idea are motors based on Liquefied Petroleum Gas. It is also recommended to walk or ride a bike (which maintain good health).
During the month, the children observed with great attention all types of means of transportation – on land / terrestrial (road, rail), aquatic (naval), air or on cable. The children liked all very much, said that are beautiful and interesting; they often shouted “Wow!”
Because any kind of trip requires a certain effort, but also risks, we discussed with children about the traffic rules and safety. We discussed more about pedestrian traffic and the movement of land means of transportation because many of the children enrolled in our project come to the kindergarten walking on an unpaved street, without sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, or traffic lights. It is dangerous and difficult, but the children understood the importance of attention on the road, and generally they follow that simple rule, to look to the left, then to the right (for many times), to listen to the sounds around (cars horns and engines) and to avoid running and playing on street, to walk on the side of the street.
Although we sometimes wonder whether to tell them this information, or to show them certain pictures of accidents, we think that it is better to prevent, to avoid consequences of this kind of incident, to make them aware that means of transportation can be useful, but at the same time extremely dangerous. Sometimes accidents and real tragedies can happen due to inattention, haste or even ignorance. We do not exaggerate with shocking cases, but we never want to live those experiences from pictures.
Other interesting topics discussed during the lessons were: Traveling on boat, bus, or plane, How we overcome our fear of water or height, Dangers in the water, A journey is more interesting if we make it with a braver friend than us.
Because at the end of the month we all prepare to celebrate Easter, we have calmed our hearts and cleaned our souls, remembering what really means this holiday, what the Bible says about the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and the Great Love of God for all of us. Jesus is risen!
The Future Changed Kindergarten is a magical place for these wonderful children – who have had a really unfortunate start in life – to just be children. The sponsors of this project enable children who have no chance in life, to be given the opportunity to learn and be in a strong position to start school rather than have a high chance of school drop out which is what used to happen.