Friday, January 2, 2015

The Backyard School: The Most Important Lesson

Sarah Margaret, our current Backyard School teacher has written a guest post about our little school   (the classroom is on the other side of the backyard, hence the name) for the older children.

It’s been a while since you’ve seen a glimpse of Backyard School. The seasons have changed…but some of the best things haven’t. We still have three beautiful girls as our students every day: Cora Jo, Zoe and Hannah (formerly known as Lucy) and these three make quite the group!

Before I came to New Day, I had years of previous experience in preschools as a teacher’s assistant and for multiple families as a nanny. Although I had experience in teaching settings, I had never had the opportunity to plan lessons and teach on my own. So when I started the Backyard School in October, I was somewhat “thrown into the deep end” and needed to learn how to evaluate the children’s needs and develop an effective teaching approach fairly quickly. It has not been easy with their varying needs but I have tried my best.

Sometimes when you spend so much time with just a few children here, it can be easy to forget their reality. Although the routine of going to kindergarten is normal for any child, being without a family to take you and pick you up from school is not. These three girls are not just hungry for learning but even more so, hungry for love. Every morning when I arrive, they all try to be the first to get out a “Ni hao!”, “Hi!”, or “Good morning!” And every morning it brings a smile to my face. Each of their faces glow at hearing praise for their accomplishments. And every hug is enjoyed by all.

We had some wonderful news come in since I’ve been here. Not too long ago, we found out Zoe had been matched with a family. And soon after that, came the long awaited news that Lucy (now Hannah) had been matched with her forever family too! I cried tears of joy that day as I watched her walk around and tell each person the news. And so with Cora Jo being matched as well, our little Backyard School has a lot to celebrate!

Given this amazing situation, my focus during my time in the Backyard School has been to teach the girls English words that may be helpful when they get to go to their forever homes one day. We’ve been mainly focusing on family member names (Daddy, Mama, Sister, Brother), feelings (happy, sad, angry, hungry, thirsty, tired, hot, cold), and the concept of family (family songs, books). 

These three are such ‘little mamas’. Zoe loves to help her classmates with their coats, giving them both directions and helping to clean their mouths and hands. Hannah and Cora Jo love the chance of holding a baby doll and playing the role of mama. 

Regardless of their individual challenges, they all try hard every day. We all have our ‘bad days’ but in my opinion, the joy of the good days shine through here. After all our time spent together, one thing I know these three do extraordinarily well is: love.

I am still unsure if I will pursue teaching in the long-term but I am leaving and taking with me the treasure of remembering Cora Jo’s big hugs, Hannah’s cuddles and Zoe’s hand in mine. As long as they’ve learned love from me, I feel that my teaching has been successful. In fact, I think they actually taught me a thing or two. I have learned that love is patient. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. 

And although one day soon I’ll have to say goodbye, Love never ends.
This post was written by current volunteer, Sarah Margaret.

1 comment:

  1. That is a wonderful opportunity and life-changing for the children.