January 26, 2016

Clever ways

Something funny happened today in our class. Actually, funny things just come and go when you are working with kids.

We were talking about family this morning and I was asking each one of the kids the members of their family. I also asked them about what their mommy and daddy usually do. Some said that "Daddy works in the office" and "Mommy stays at home." I also asked them to draw their family's faces and we made family finger puppets. They also had a chance to draw their family and their house using colored markers and pencils.

There's this youngest kid in my class who's still in scribbling stage when it comes to drawing. He was drawing a lot of circles and I encouraged him to draw his family's faces, still he went on doodling and scribbling. When all of them were done, I asked each of them to tell me what they have created. One of them drew a lot of houses for each of his friends, he said 'Muchos house!' and one of them drew a door and windows on her house. The youngest kid told me that he drew a house while I was making sense of the doodles and circles, and then I asked him where are his family and he answered proudly "My mommy is inside (the house)"

I kind of laughed a little with his answer, it was actually clever. Who knows who else is inside the house that he has drawn, maybe his whole family is there! It reminded of a particular scene in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, when the prince asked for a sheep and the pilot drew a box, pointing out that the sheep is inside.
There's a small sheep inside this box.
I am writing down these things here because soon I will forget and I want to be always reminded that kids are clever. It just takes some understanding from parents and teachers to help them realize it. For sure, there were a lot of situations like this that I have dealt with in my class and I may have forgotten them - some were even funnier. I hope that when I become a parent someday, I'll have the time to write anecdotes about my child to keep the memories alive, because in this fast-paced life, we tend to forget the little things that matter. This will be all for now - have a great first month of the year! :)

December 29, 2015

Michael + Jillian

I encounter millions of bodies in my life; of these millions, I may desire some hundreds; but of these hundreds, I love only one. [1]

December 15, 2015

Hi, winter.

Winter has come here in KSA. Although it's always sunny, the wind feels really cold even at noontime. People started wearing winter apparels; thick clothes and body warmers were all in shops' display.

The kids in our school are spending the holidays in their home country, some will go somewhere else. Sadly, we won't have any days off from work even if all the kids will be on holiday. We are still asking if we can have a free day on the 24th. Well, that's the downside of working in a Muslim country especially when you're a Christian, we cannot have Christmas holidays. Still, I'm grateful that things are working smoothly in our school.

This Christmas is the second time that Michael and I will be celebrating it as husband and wife. It's unimaginable how time flies swiftly. This will the first time that I will be spending Christmas outside the Philippines. We miss the events and celebrations this holiday season - reunion, parties, misa de gallo, presents, Christmas carols, nativity play, and Filipino foods! Anyway, we are also preparing foods for relatives who will visit us on Christmas day here. It won't be as festive and happy as what we have back home, but it will still be fun.

I am grateful for all 2015 had been. 2015 has brought a lot of new adventures and experiences and I am quite ready for the next year. Have a happy holidays! :)
Photo taken outside the Rimal Center

November 30, 2015

Of reading stories to children

I went to a daycare center when I was a child, and I have no memory of the teacher reading stories to us. It was a time when preschool education was not a requirement before going to elementary classes. There weren't a lot of daycare services that time as much as I could recall, unlike today, daycare services and preschools are everywhere.

I remember that we had a lot of math worksheets and that I really enjoyed counting activities. I think I learned to read when I was in first grade. Though there were other children to play with in the school, it was not so fun at all. I recall that other parents would threat the kids to stop crying or else the teacher would do something bad to them. How would kids feel safe in such an environment?

Fast forward to university life and I was taking my degree, I enjoyed my practicum playing with and teaching the kids. I learned a lot from my cooperating teachers. We planned creative activities that would focus on the children's skills and interest. Truly, the children learn best when they enjoy what they are doing. From that moment on, I realized that I love teaching and being part of someone's childhood. I think it is overwhelming when people recall their awesome childhood and you were a part of it. It's enough reason to keep you going.

When I started teaching preschool classes, I make sure that children will feel safe and loved in the class. I try as much not to use threatening to manage the kids, though it's so tempting. Since I love reading books and stories, I also want the children to learn to love listening to stories and reading story books - even the boring ones. There is no boring book for teachers who can animate well, you can improvise the story through the pictures if you like. Once you show the children that you are not so interested, they won't be interested too.

There were times when I almost finished reading to class all the books that are provided by the school. I went to the bookstore and bought books that I could buy with my own money so that I could read new stories in class. I do not want to see the children get frustrated when there are no new books to read. Kids wanting to know more stories just show that they already loved the idea of reading and listening to stories. And I think it's great! Adarna House and Lampara Books are some of the publishing houses in the Philippines that make great books for children, I usually check them whenever I go to the bookstore. You can visit their website if you like.

I love children's storybooks since they are usually short and comes with illustrations to help the kids imagine, and of course, for those who can not read all the words yet. I think I have a collection of at least 30 storybooks and I plan to collect more because I believe that they will all be useful, if not in my own learning center in the future, at least in preschool classes that I'll be teaching. I also dream of making at least one storybook; I still hold on to that dream and it is yet to happen.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy reading stories to the kids in my class and hope that they will also love reading! Their favorite books as of now were The Gruffalo and Three Billy Goats Gruff. They loved them so much that we even gave birthdays to the Gruffalo and the Troll. Ha ha! That would be all for now, have fun reading! :)
These are some of the books in our Quiet Area

November 24, 2015

Blessings in disguise

We had a minor car accident last week on the way to work. We were in the wrong lane when a speeding car appeared and slightly bumped to our right headlight. The headlight got a small crack and  there were some deep scratches on the right side, but the other car had more damages that needed fixing.

I recalled that Michael and I were talking about the delegates of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit when the accident happened. When Michael got off the car to talk to the Saudi who was driving the other car, I was wondering if he would talk aggressively like how he did before on incidents like this. To my surprise, he talked to him calmly and even the Saudi was calm about it. I was hoping and praying that the Saudi would let it pass, but with the damage in his car it's quite impossible. I called my co-teacher that I would be late that morning because of that accident. They were calling the insurance police to report the incident but since it was still early, no one's responding through the hotline. Michael and the Saudi guy agreed to meet later in the morning to reenact the accident and to call the police, too. Sounds funny, right?

Since both cars have insurance, they just needed the accident report before we could get our cars repaired and paid by the insurance company. Anyway, when they met and called the Najm, the Najm said that Michael would go to jail since the insurance was not named after him upon checking the papers. The Saudi guy protested then and agreed that they would just disregard the accident. He later told Michael that he did not want him to go to jail because he would not get anything from that situation, and that's a lot of trouble for such a small accident. We were thankful but at the same time felt sorry for the Saudi because he would shoulder his car's repair all by himself.

On the way to school, we saw a tragic car accident and thought if the driver survived that crash. It was terrible. We couldn't help but thank God that we were safe and we only had a small accident. We are also thankful that the Saudi guy we encountered was understanding and friendly, unlike some who are angry and aggressive. It made me believe that there is still goodness in people.

Accidents can happen when we least expect them. Some accidents may actually be blessings in disguise, saving us from something more awful, especially in this world where almost everything is uncertain. We couldn't be more grateful that we are safe and sound amidst the small accidents in our life. But, we'll be more careful next time. :)

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