Throughout the month of Ramadan, daytime fasting and nighttime feasting push business hours and bedtimes later here in Nablus. Mornings are particularly quiet, as children and adults alike sleep in after staying up late to work off the post-Iftar sugar high. But on Monday, at 10 am sharp, TYO was once again ringing with the sound of kids’ laughter and running feet as the Core Child Program teachers and the Triple Exposure team began the Ramadan session for 22 kids from Khellet Al-Amood.
This three week class is different from TYO’s normal 12-week interventions. In large part, it is designed to keep the children active and growing during this quiet month. Studies show that children without access to diverse enriching experiences during extended school vacations suffer significant losses in academic skills (National Summer Learning Association). In order to preserve and deepen the growth that our youngest Core Child Program students have been engaged in at TYO, we’re bringing them back for an hour and a half, three days a week, for the next three weeks.
The first week of the session has focused on instilling a sense of self and other in the children. On Monday, they drew pictures of themselves engaged in their favorite activities. On Tuesday, after listening to Jawwad’s spirited rendition of a story about an old lady, her cat, and some contentious milk, the children drew pictures of the characters in the story. On Wednesday, they discussed the many colors, animals, and plants that can be found in the sea. Each child then designed his own oceanic backdrop for the tissue paper and googley-eyed fish that they will make next week.
The next two weeks of the class will be structured more generally around the concept of creative play. Warm-up activities like “Simon Says” and games where they simulate the life cycle of a plant allow for simultaneous physical and cognitive learning. Threading beads onto strings helped develop the motor skills that the children will need when they will string all of their painted cardstock butterflies together to make a huge butterfly chain. Thus, through stories, art projects, and athletic games, these kids from Khella will spend their Ramadan mornings flexing their creative muscles, and in doing so, learn volumes about themselves, each other, and the world around them.
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