Pre-Primary School Facility:
Walking into my pre-school, Zouhour, I was glad to see an area for both learning and playing. From my experience working with kids who have physical and mental disabilities or illness in Tallahassee, “Big Play,” or big movement was emphasized for growth in emotional, mental, and physical development. Zouhour has an area with a rainbow tiled floor, big dinosaurs for rocking, a few slides, and a reading/napping area. Additionally, the room for learning includes a large white board and a long table. While the quality of the learning room is not nearly the same as I remember in my kindergarten, it is sufficient.
A week into planning lessons and activities for the kids I have run into a few issues regarding limited supplies/resources: for example, the kids were fighting over one set of colored pencils, there were no crayons, and I do not have access to a printer. As a result, all of my activities have to be handwritten and repeated 10 times for each of my students while at the same time condensing amount of paper I use due to a lack of paper in the city. I also decided to buy each of my kids a pen that has 8 colors in one to save money and space in the classroom. Due to some limited resources, I have also focused a lot more on movement and singing which requires no materials: such as singing the ABCs or holding Yoga poses.
I researched that in 2020 the Morocco government closed all pre-primary (what I teach) through tertiary school and since then many parents and public officials are concerned about increased risk of early dropouts, psycho-emotional development, and delayed language/educational development. These risks are similar to concerns in the US, however they are exacerbated due to lack of technology and virtual resources. With my students I focus on teaching English and I have been amazed at how quickly they are picking up new vocabulary words and the songs I am teaching them. Writing is a big challenge for many of the kids however, and the lack of lined paper makes it a hard topic to focus on.
Technology and Learning:
With my lessons teaching new vocabulary words to the students, I made PowerPoint presentations showing the word and corresponding pictures to include both visual and auditory learning processes. Not surprisingly the kids are in awe over the screen of my computer and the pictures in front of them; however, the owners of the preschool seem to disagree with my use of technology with the kids. During one of my lessons the teacher actually moved the kids farther from my computer screen to “protect their eyes” from the brightness on the screen. I have also observed so many more kids playing football, walking in the medina, riding around squares in bikes, and almost rarely ever on their phones (quite different from the US). This makes me think that the “lack of virtual learning resources” is a mix of both tradition and affordability. In my opinion, kids should be outside versus playing video games but I can also see how a lack of virtual resources during the pandemic could have delayed educational development for children in Morocco.
After working with the kids for a week, I want to focus my CapStone Project on how kinesthetic learning and therapy are essential to educational, emotional, and physical development. For my volunteer project in Morocco I will focus on kinesthetic learning, while my medical shadowing program in Italy will focus on kinesthetic therapy. I also plan to incorporate my passion for dance in the project by attending an Afro-Jazz class and learning about the Berber dance culture in Morocco as well as traditional dance in Italy as well.