Out here in eastern Chad, I wake up every morning at 6am so that I may have some time to read, reflect, and drink my Starbucks instant coffee with the natural morning light and the sound of birds, roosters, and donkeys. This morning I especially wanted some time so that I could review the Little Ripples Trainers Manual and prepare my curriculum and activities for the first day of Little Ripples teacher training. Today, and for the next four days, with the assistance of the very experienced Little Ripples School teachers, I’ll be training a whole bunch of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) “Kiosk” preschool teachers as well as other refugee women who are seeking employment. Additionally, the JRS Preschool Coordinator will be sitting in on the training so that he may also learn from iACT. No pressure.
I set out for the morning of training with a pep in my step. I was giddy at the opportunity to positively impact and shift the way teachers in this camp approach and view early childhood education. While bumping along on our 25 minute drive to the camp, looking out of the car window at herds of camels, I thought hard about my ice-breaker and the activities I thought might be the most engaging and informative for the women. Though, being that is was day one of training, I knew I had to first and foremost ensure that the women understood the importance of early childhood education, child development, and even more so, the importance of active and play-based learning for early child development. I wanted the teachers to understand that they could no longer simply stand at the front of the classroom and have children repeat or sing letters, numbers or colors out loud. No. At Little Ripples, teachers are to be guiding the children in small groups and focusing on fostering imagination, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving, ability to self-regulate, and peaceful play with others. But again, I wanted the women to understand WHY this was important, and through the iACT training approach, they learn the “why” by doing.
And so, for our first day of Little Ripples training, as a group of 35, we played games that focused on peace-building and understanding. We created stories of peace, helping and sharing and read them out loud. We demonstrated peaceful, non-violent solutions in the classroom. We discussed the importance of teaching in small groups and giving each child individual attention. We practiced activities that allowed children to use their imagination and bodies while learning literacy. We practiced calming, mindful movements. Lastly, we ran relay-races outside and learned ways to teach children literacy through very active play and laughter! After each activity, we sat and reflected, and discussed as a group how each activity addressed the main learning domains critical to early child development.
On the drive out of the camp in the afternoon, again along the bumpy, red dirt road, I thought about how this trip and this training is a reflection of how exciting of a time it is for Little Ripples. iACT is currently expanding the program in eastern Chad and is looking to expand Little Ripples elsewhere. Please Join us. Help us continue to invest in more women and children. If you give the gift of “Training Kits” this holiday season and iACT can provide more peer-to-peer, participatory trainings like this one.
This blog was originally posted on iactivism.org as part of iACT’s 22nd expedition to eastern Chad.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 is a global day of giving.
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