By Rossana Llenado

 

One of the best ways that children learn is through play—this is one of the things that I discovered when we ran a preschool a couple of years ago.

You know how young kids usually cry when they have to go to school? Well, our pupils cried when they had to go home. That’s because they had so much fun at our school, WorldPrep School. We called it a school in a park because we had a big lawn in front and a giant acacia tree watching over us. I remember how the kids loved running around the yard, playing games or just hanging out. That was how we wanted things to be. We wanted children to learn amidst beautiful surroundings.

We also employed non-traditional ways of teaching. We went on trips to the supermarket. Just by going along the aisles, the kids get to learn about shapes and sizes. Our teachers would pick an apple, for instance, and point out its color.

Once, we asked our neighborhood firemen to visit us in school. The kids were just thrilled. The firemen talked about how they respond to emergencies, and shared fire safety tips in the process. The kids even got to climb on the fire truck.

When parents want their kids to celebrate their birthdays in school, we saw that as another learning opportunity. We incorporated educational games into the program and encouraged the kids to participate. We hit two birds with one stone. The kids not only learned a lesson or two, they were also able to sharpen their social skills.

We thought of different ways to put some fun into learning, and the kids, without knowing it, were absorbing all these information in a pleasant way.

There was a time when parents questioned our teaching methods because they thought we just let their kids play in school. They had become so concerned about this that they asked us for a meeting. Clueless about the prevailing misconception, we gladly arranged a meeting.

At the meeting, the parents asked what we were teaching their children besides play. In response, one of our teachers called one of her pupils to the front. Milk bottle in her mouth, donned in disposable diapers, the two-year-old happily complied. To the amazement of the parents, the toddler read three-letter words from the blackboard, pausing in between words to take a sip from her bottle. The youngster got the parents’ loud applause. Our school got their seal of trust.

Unfortunately, a leasing problem forced us to close our preschool. That particular location was ideal, and we just couldn’t find another that equaled it.

On our last day, we held a ceremony at our front yard. We were all in tears—students, teachers, parents, and staff. It was a magical experience that we didn’t want to end. I think the heavens heard us as well because for one shining moment, a shower of acacia flowers rained down on us. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

Today, we are bringing that dream back to life with Victorious Educational Network, and this time we are going to do it better. We want to develop young learners who are happy, smart, and ready for the world. For this endeavor, we are gathering the best minds in the education industry to get our school in a park up and running by next school year. We are also looking for partners who share our passion for education.

I am very excited to see this dream come true once again—and I know that this time, we will come out victorious!

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