By Karen Morrow
It was a crisp spring/summer afternoon and some of the preschool children and their parents were waiting as we arrived for our Ready for School program. Everyone quickly helped to put the chairs around the table and put out the Play-Doh and cookie cutters. Although it was 30 minutes before class was to begin, the children were there and eagerly began cutting shapes out of the dough.
The 13 children and parents are refugees from Burma, Afghanistan and Bhutan. They speak very little English, but are like sponges absorbing every word said and slowly repeating them. When the program began last fall, they were quiet as mice, listening intently with questioning eyes. Today, the room is filled with laughter as they talk about the shapes they are making.
When the clean-up song begins, they quickly put everything away and head to circle time. They begin singing “Put your finger in the air” and move on to “Head, shoulders, knees and toes.”
Today’s book is 10 Hungry Rabbits. The very hungry rabbits find vegetables in the garden for their mother to make soup. The children pretend to be the hungry rabbits and in turn put the vegetables in a pot…1 purple cabbage, 2 white onions, 3 yellow peppers… until the soup is complete.
Now it’s time to color the vegetables on a worksheet. We do lots of activities where children work with their parent, not only teaching the child but also the parents – shapes, colors, numbers and other concepts.
“Ready for School” is a free downloadable curriculum developed by CBF field personnel Karen Morrow in partnership with Literacy Connexus board members Caroline Bell and Jana Marbut Ray, designed to prepare refugee children to enter schools in the United States.
Karen, who works with refugees in Texas discovered that refugee children often have no books in their home and come from cultures where there were no children’s books. Some refugee parents do not read and write in their own language and struggle with English. This program is designed to teach 3 and 4-year-olds and their parent basic Englishthrough children’s literature and play.
At the beginning of the classes, each family is given a string bag with paper, markers, colors, scissors and pencils to take home and use. Each week the child receives a children’s book which the lesson is based upon. The parents are encouraged to read the books to them or tell the story in their own language and practice the skills they have learned.
Each week, 5 volunteers from 4 churches partner together to teach the children, show them love and encouragement and help them transition to life here in America.
Your offering to the CBF Offering for Global Missions supports Ready for School classes for refugee families and field personnel Karen Morrow as she welcomes refugees in Texas. To partner with Karen and learn more about the Offering, visit www.cbf.net/OGM.