In a room full of mothers, early childhood development (ECD) trainer Suad addresses the most pressing issues in ECD during their wonder years. “The wonder years,” according to Saud, “is when children begin to gain the skills that will shape their future personalities. These are some of the most important years for development in children. It all comes down to good caring and loving parents.”
“These early years are crucial for parents. We need to deepen connections with our children and make their routines fun,” says mother Kifah Ghaben from Sawarha village in Gaza. Through each ECD session, values of positive parenting are underscored.
Positive parenting sessions educate parents on the different activities offered in preschool for their children and how they might learn. These sessions also give parents information about the characteristics, problem-solving abilities, strengths and weaknesses of their children in order to deal with them appropriately.
“We need cooperation between parents, preschool teachers and administrators in order to apply a holistic approach at preschools,” according to Saud.
The atmosphere inside the current ECD session is vivid and laughter can be heard frequently. “When mothers smile during my sessions, I feel that I have succeeded in being a good model for them,” says Saud. “Making the people we live with smile is our key to making any type of communication successful. I want them to know that any task, done with love and joy, is most effective and helps everybody meet their goals.”
Saed, who is also an ECD teacher-trainer, has organized a training session in the room next door to Saud. He begins his session with a warm-up activity in order to teach parents how to get the children ready for the day. “Every activity I teach is based on a theory and making learning fun. I impart messages about personal hygiene, washing your hands and teeth in the morning without actually telling the children directly. I have them learn these values by taking part in different games and activities,” said Saed.
The overall theme of today’s session is creating fun, interactive environments between parents and children. This theme is taught by giving parents and children a chance to play together with the preschool’s toys and create fun crafts, which double as educational tools. “It feels great to experience this. I created a necklace and bracelets from the little colorful pieces laid out,” said Amena Bourdini, a mother in the session. These crafts and games will help parents teach their children basic lessons along with life and motor skills. For example, the pieces in the necklace that Amena made can help teach her children colors, counting and concentration skills.
When children learn interactively and independently, less pressure is placed on the parents. “We want parents to learn that children can play and learn at the same time. The more they learn, the more creative they will be,” said Saed. “The bottom line is that preschoolers strive for several needs other than just studying. If you want them to learn, let them play!”