Monday 13 February 2017

When assigned to be in charge of Parents’ Clubs of Tuoi Hoa preschool in Lang commune, Tay Giang district, Quang Nam province, Ms. Doan Thi Nga, the provincial excellent teacher with more than 13 years of teaching experience, had thought of many potential difficulties. She raised many questions for herself, such as: How to mobilize the full participation of parents in all club sessions? How to help them overcome the language and psychological barriers in order to understand and actively participate? How to encourage them to apply what they learnt to support their children to learn emergent literacy and math skills at home? How could she make the sessions attractive, easy to understand and follow? It is understandable because even Nga who understands very well the importance of parents’ role in children’s education, still finds it difficult to spend time with children and help them to learn; while most Cotu parents spend time on earning their livings and think that educating children is teachers’ full responsibility.

The new task was also a challenge for Nga - although she has been teaching many children, it’s her first time as a facilitator helping parents learn how to teach their children. However, she thought “challenging doesn’t mean impossible”. She prepared very well for each session by reading guidance booklet carefully and making her own lesson plan to better remember the content. Her teaching tools are easy-to-find materials that any Cotu household can have, such as stones, leaves, corns, beans, etc… She also uses body parts to guide parents on how to help their children learn via playing. Realizing that many parents hadn’t understood the way to teach their children and are not yet comfortable with reading practices due to language and literacy barriers, Nga immediately used both Vietnamese and Cotu when facilitating the club and asked for translation help from local people when needed.

                                                                      Nga as a facilitator in a parent club session

With her careful preparation and thoughtfulness, each session completed with meaningful joys and participation of everyone. Not only being active, enthusiastic and creative at the Parents’ Clubs, Nga also spent a lot of time to visit households in distant hamlets like A Ró and Pơ Nin, where Cotu parents are often shy and participate less. For those who need more support, she gathered 3-4 households together and reinstructed the games as well as supported and encouraged them to overcome their difficulties and be confident at the club.  With Nga’s instructions, 5 Parents’ Clubs of Tuoi Hoa preschools were well implemented with attendance rate from 94%.

'Although facing some challenges, need to spend a lot of time reading materials for sessions’ preparation and reaching out to remote areas to facilitate parent clubs, I still feel happy as I can contribute to change parents’ viewpoints in assisting their children to learn via playing simple games at home and help children to be better at school', Nga shared.

Nga is one of 66 preschool teachers of 5 projected preschools in Tay Giang, who have been trying to provide Cotu children an enabling and quality learning environment in order to be ready for primary school. She is also an active member supporting Cotu parents to understand and better act like 'the first and forever teacher of their children'.