As we head into the eleventh week of our Core 4-5 year-old program this Spring, and week 8 of our Core 6-8 year-old program, our teachers took time to reflect back on the start of the program in February and the greatest successes and challenges they had faced thus far.
One success echoed by everyone on the team was the incredible growth they had seen in the personality and socio-emotional skills of a few specific students. They recalled previously hyperactive kids who had now become classroom leaders in engagement and participation; extremely shy children who could now speak with confidence to their peers and adults; and most of all, children who had learned to express frustration or anger through words, rather than acting out.
We thought we’d share one of the many success stories with you. Check out the interview below with Ibrahim, father of Raghad in our Core 4-5 year old program.
1. Can you tell us about any changes you have seen in Raghad since she joined TYO’s ECE program? What was she like before, during, and after?
My first concern when I registered Raghad at TYO was her shyness. Raghad was always very uncomfortable talking to others; she would barely talk to her own cousins and the neighborhood kids, never mind strangers. I wanted TYO to help her become more social and have more courage to initiate friendships with her peers. Other than that, she has always been very smart, well-behaved, and responsible. I’m very grateful for that. Still, I knew that even though she is bright, her shyness would eventually be a problem in school and in her life.
In her first weeks, I did see a lot of improvement. She is still quiet when she meets new people, whether children or adults, but her adjustment period is much faster and she can quickly make friends with children her age. I think the difference now is that her reserved behavior around new people is much less about being shy and more because she understands her personal boundaries.
2. What do you think Raghad enjoys most about TYO? What does she talk about at home?
Some days, Raghad wakes us up in the middle of the night to tell us a novel about what she learned at TYO. She talks about everything, but most of all, she loves talking about sports. I know Raghad, and I know that she can be very competitive. We’re an athletic and competitive family as it is, so playing is in her genes.
What surprised me was how much she talks about academics, especially reading and writing in Arabic and English. She knew nothing about either alphabet before the program, and she really impressed me with her progress. Now she can write and recognize letters in both English and Arabic. When our TV is on, she’ll see a word in English and read out all of the letters correctly. She does that everywhere! Even when we’re in the street, she’ll read out the letters on t-shirts of strangers walking by. I feel like her mind never stops running, which is something I did not see in her before TYO.
3. Are there other centers in Nablus like TYO?
There are no other programs like TYO. We visited many preschools, and in every program the focus is solely academic, mostly reading and writing Arabic. We even visited the best preschool in Nablus, which I knew we could not afford, and as soon as I entered I knew it was a bad fit for Raghad. There was only one room and no space for the children to play.
TYO’s space is so much more comfortable. There are rooms and materials designed for different types of activities, for example the Sports room and Concentration room. I want Raghad to experience those different things. From a very young age, Raghad has always had a unique ability and curiosity to build things. She loves blocks and patterns, and she needs a space like TYO in order to grow those interests.
As a father, I know that there will be enough time in Raghad’s future to learn specific subjects. We need to build her interest in learning first, and I think TYO is the only place that can meet that need for Raghad.
4. Have you noticed a change in Raghad’s academic abilities? Have you noticed a change in her attitude towards school or her behavior in a school environment?
Like I said, her English and Arabic skills have grown tremendously. Raghad’s only school-like experience has been with TYO, and she has never shown any resistance about coming. She loves the center, and she loves coming to see her friends and classmates. I hope she will carry that same excitement when she enters first grade.
-Niralee, TYO Core Child Program Manager