Learning to play and playing to learn
By Marge Francia
Energetic and playful day care students in Northern Samar are excited to go to school because of their new playground sets, toys and books given by UNICEF.
In Barangay Nenita in Northern Samar’s Mondragon municipality, it almost always rains from the months of September to November. For the poor barangay’s schools and most especially the day care center, this means students can look forward to flooded classrooms and muddy school grounds with nowhere to run and play—well, until this school year came around.
One gloomy day, students woke up to drizzling rain and the most curious of structures kids have never quite seen before, a playground set painted in the most playful of colors. Suddenly the light drizzle didn’t matter and the little ones wanted to go to school early to be able to enjoy their new playground.
“Paborito ko po yung padusdusan (My favorite is the slide),” Robinson Labitag, a 5 year-old day care student said while rushing to climb so he could slide down and do it all over again.
“Gusto ko po yung lumtabo! (For me, I like the seesaw), Yna Laura, Robinson’s classmate shouted over a din of more than twenty screaming day care students fighting for their favorite piece of the playground.
Those weird contraptions
“The kids have never seen a playground before, so when they first saw these monkey bars and swings, they were curious and didn’t quite know what it was all about. When they discovered it was their new playground, they go to school way before the school bell starts,” Teacher Leah Domdom said.
Since the arrival of the new playground, she has since seen that pupil attendance has improved and children have more interest in going to school. Children have more motivation, are happier and have an outlet for their energy and their need to play with other kids.
A few minutes away from Robinson’s school, Marc Ej Pedemonte learns to role play because of the new toys that his day care center received from the French National Committee of UNICEF. Northern Samar is one of the provinces that receive assistance from UNICEF as it implements its Sixth Country Programme for Children to address children’s concerns.
“I showed him how to use the stethoscope from the doctor’s toy kit. Now, he likes using it himself and pretends to hear my heartbeat. Ej is a very bright young boy, and this is just the kind of stimulation he needs to be able to learn new things,” Teacher Marissa Huavas said.
Learning, the fun way
Teacher Marissa’s day care center in Bugko is one of the recipients of an ECCD (Early Childhood Care and Development) kit. This kit creates learning through play, because children learn best through it. Experts in child development cite the intrinsic connection between play on the one and on the hand other hand, literacy, logic and mathematics, development of feelings of trust, self-esteem and communication skills. A study cites that playful behavior in childhood is the foundation of creativity in adulthood.
Teacher Marissa has noticed that because of the new toys and books, the day care students now love going to school. They are much more active, especially when they see pictures, colorful toys and have something in their hands they can manipulate like clay, or a guitar.
“I really noticed an improvement in Ej when these toys came in. I thank UNICEF because it’s a really big help for us day care workers to have these kinds of toys, to be able to teach them better and learn more. Before, we only used to make our own toys out of wood or paper. I’m really happy,” she said with a big bright smile.
If Teacher Marissa is happy, just imagine the hundreds of children all around Northern Samar enjoying their new educational toys or playing in the “lumtabo” (seesaw), “padusdusan” (slide), “duyan” (swing) and “bitayan” (monkey bars) while the light November drizzle descends upon their faces filled with joy.
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Children First Newsletter (Q4 2009 Issue)
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