Today, we began our work in a different camp in Tanzania—Nduta Refugee Camp. In Nduta Camp, we are training 25 refugee men and women as early childhood care and development teachers in four centers supported by Plan International. These new teachers are being trained in our Little Ripples curriculum and model.
The Little Ripples curriculum is a pre-established framework based on evidence-based early childhood development and education theory and practice. It provides a guide for teaching through play, fostering social-emotional development and peacebuilding, and using positive behavior management and mindfulness. The structure is purposely designed as a framework, so it can be flushed out and adapted by refugee teachers with activities, stories, and games unique to their culture and experiences. That means every Little Ripples center will look or feel a little different based on the personality of the teacher and the culture of the refugee community.
The adaptation of the Little Ripples curriculum by refugee teachers came to life during training today as teachers infused the curriculum with their culture and experiences. They wrote unique stories about the Little Ripples pillars of Peace, Helping and Sharing and practiced play-based teaching using Little Ripples educational materials. In small groups, teachers role-played as young students while a teacher guided them in play-based learning. From time to time, each small group would suddenly break out in song. We had no idea what was happening until they explained to us that this is one way Burundian teachers joyfully and positively congratulate a student when he or she has learned something new, contributed to the activity, or answered something correctly!
The refugee teachers we train and get to work with already have so many tools they use when teaching their students. They have so much to bring to the Little Ripples curriculum and program. As was evident today, sometimes it is just a matter of giving them the time, space, and opportunity to bring it all together.