By Irene Calimlim

[vimeo 82359567 w=500&h=280]

Here is a video highlighting moments from the opening of the new CRHP Joyful Learning Preschool Classroom. Early this year plans were made to construct a second classroom to provide more space, so that more children can be accommodated. The class can now be split into two to account for skill and grade level, to provide more activities, and to even up the teacher-to-student ratio. After some setbacks on construction due to the drought, the newest Joyful Learning Preschool Classroom has been completed. The preschool has made a remarkable impact in the community, and the single room in which it started, with its beautiful outside playground, has become too small to sustain the number of children wanting and needing its benefits.

By attending the Joyful Learning Preschool, the children are provided with two nutritious meals a day, regular health screenings, and a Montessori-inspired teaching curriculum that prepares children for entry into primary school. The school supplies children with the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and social competency, and to have a safe space to test out new ideas. Each morning the children are picked up by their teacher and dropped off in the late afternoon allowing parents to find day labor work. CRHP has found over the years that participation in the Joyful Learning program helps these children, who would otherwise be starting off behind classmates, enter primary school ahead of their peers. Well over 90 percent of the preschool’s attendees who would typically dropout before completing first grade are continuing on to at least fifth grade, and more than 60 percent go on to complete tenth grade.

The CRHP’s Joyful Learning Preschool was created in 1993 to provide schooling to children between the ages of two to fivefrom the neighboring slum community of Indiranagar.  The preschool not only offers a much needed and important service to participating families, it also offers a way to build trust in a community that is notoriously difficult to establish a connection with. Families that live in Indiranagar are transient, many moving in with the intention to leave as soon as possible, and so the dynamics are different than a village, where families are rooted and have established social networks. Many have moved to Indiranagar to improve upon a dire financial situation or for some other short-term crisis that pushes all other concerns to the back burner. Unless there is psychological and social support, encouragement and teaching, the care of children is often poor in these families. The lessons on clean water and other basic health topics that the students bring back to their families are hoped to be the beginning of their progress towards better health.

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