I miss working with the children so much.
There I said it; I miss working with the children so much. When our last group graduated in June this year, summer break was just around the corner. So, I knew it would be a while before I could see all the children again. I also planned a trip to the Netherlands, returning in mid-October. Read my Blog about my trip here.
I planned to do a short follow-up program of 6 weeks at both schools after my trip. That way, I could see how all the children I worked with are doing now and have some fun with paper, glue, and glitter at the same time. A sudden rise in Covid cases derailed that completely.
Schools never reopened in September and are still closed when I am writing this Blog, and they are certainly not reopening before Christmas break. I am now hoping the situation improves so that schools can start in January. That would be so beneficial for the teachers, the parents and especially the children.
What is it that I miss so much?
Every group is different, of course, because every child is unique, which makes working with all of them all the more enjoyable. I love their endless curiosity and how they are never too shy to ask questions. As adults, we seem to have lost that ability.
Without knowing it, they sense the kind of person you are, and once they feel safe, it is ok for them. Especially once they get to know me, they don’t notice whether I am sweating or wearing the same clothes every time I see them. They simply enjoy the fact that I am there for them.
I love when they hug me, offer me some of their snacks, or want to lean on me because I am so soft. Some girls always offer to brush my hair, mainly because it is so different from theirs. Or wipe my forehead because I am sweating.
I love the messy ones because, to be fair, they often make me laugh. There are the children with great ideas usually the complete opposite of what I had envisioned with that day’s theme. I support their courage to stay true to who they are.
I have had a little boy tell me I needed a manicure, and he could take me to his aunt, who has a nail salon in town. I had to laugh because he was right; I needed one indeed. And that time, one girl, for some reason, decided to draw jellybeans, and we ended up with the entire group drawing jellybeans.
And how one boy always surprised me with his Picasso-like artwork, I admire him for following his path. All of them remind me of what we, as grown-ups, often forget to be our unique and authentic selves.
It is not always easy, but so worth it.
Schools have been gracious in hosting me, and I am grateful for their hospitality. It can still be challenging sometimes, both for the school and for me as well. There are days when the schools need their extra space, and they still make it work. And for me making sure that I have everything I need for the session, requires planning. That means a bag pack and shopping bag filled with materials, my water bottle, and my trusted towel to wipe my face.
I enjoy how the children always seem to gravitate to where I am in the classroom. I love being around them and watching them dive into their work and proudly show me what they have accomplished.
So what do I bring to every session?
To give you an idea of some of the items I bring for the session, here is a random list: at least 6 bottles of school glue, a Ziploc bag with 10 child-friendly scissors, a roll of toilet paper to clean up whatever mess happens that day. Enough sheets of card stock for every child to be able to choose their color for the day. Multiple plastic containers with crayons, (gel)pens, and my orange pencil case filled with sharpened pencils, erasers, and 2 sharpeners, because you never know. Extra plain sheets of paper, cut in half, to save money. I believe it is important to bring all materials in good condition and well presented. Why, you ask, well, I wrote a blog about that; click here to read it.
The most recent program we did started around 10:15 am, and I always made sure to bring something to snack. Fortunately, the Rotary Club of Portsmouth, DM, supported us by bringing healthy snacks during many of the sessions.
Circumstances are challenging; schools are making the best of what they have. Some are still struggling with the damages of Hurricane Maria that devastated Dominica over 4 years ago. Others are sharing their building with another school because that school is still rebuilding. And the pandemic is not making that any easier.
I am thinking of all the children every day.
As there currently are only online classes, my thoughts go out to all the children, not only the ones we had in our programs. They have to miss out on playing with their friends and e.g. celebrating Independence season, the most festive season of the year in Dominica.
I also think of those children living under trying circumstances at home, with no outlet available for them. Research has shown that abuse rises in any crisis, and the pandemic is a crisis for sure. I cannot even imagine how it must be when you have to stay at home while there is domestic violence, you are the victim of abuse, or nobody really cares. My heart goes out to all those children, and that is a major reason I miss working with the children so much, because having a good education is essential, but being part of our program is equally important.
We are looking forward to 2022.
I am an optimist by nature, and I am looking forward to next year. All the while keeping my fingers crossed that schools have reopened, and we will be able to get back up and running. I hope to still do the two follow-up programs and start with 2 new groups, one in each school.
I am confident we will find ‘our’ building next year. The time is right for expansion! We are looking forward to increasing the number of programs throughout 2022.
I will share more about the exciting search for our building in my next Blog. Don’t forget to subscribe, if you haven’t already, and be the first to receive our latest Blog and Newsletter.
See you at my next Blog, from the Nature Island