I realized I’ve been focusing most of my blog on the weekend excursions and what I’ve been learning outside the classroom and I haven’t really mentioned much of what I’ve learned in my community placement, so in this post I’m going to discuss CORAL.
Below is a general outline of a typical day at CORAL:
9:00-9:10 Welcome Song
9:10-9:35 Dance Time
9:35-10:00 Work Time
10:30-11:00 More Work (with the exception of designated therapy days)
11:45-12:00 Closing Song
After the kids arrange their chairs in a semicircle facing the teachers, the welcome song commences. The welcome song is sung and signed simultaneously by the teachers. The song is as follows: “Que bueno que vinieron aqui a CORAL! Que bueno que vinieron escuchar y jugar!” Which translates to: “I’m glad you came here to CORAL! I’m glad you came to hear and play!”
Immediately following the welcome, the kids head into the auxiliary gym room and dance for about thirty minutes. During dance time, the kids are supposed to follow a routine with their partner, but often times they just run around playing with each other. The teachers try to emphasize the importance of following along in the dance, but I think the kids get really bored with it. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of the morning dance is, and haven’t asked as to not offend anyone. Perhaps it’s like a way to wake up a little before the kids have to actively learn? As I have said multiple times I know nothing about special education, anything i say is just speculation.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I work with the five and six year olds. This includes only three kids, but they’re incredibly difficult and require a lot of one on one attention. Instead of sitting back and observing the teachers have had me help out quite a bit in the classroom. I learned the alphabet, numbers, and useful phrases in LSM1 very quickly so they’ve had me teach basic math to the kids when they’re predisposed.
One of the key things I noticed right away at CORAL is that the parents have to stay they whole time. The idea is that their presence is reassuring to the kids when they have to undergo therapy. Even when the kids aren’t actively undergoing therapy, the parents’ constant presence forces the parents to be more invested and involved in their child’s education. The truth to what I’m saying is clear in the actions of the parents who rush to talk to the teacher’s and therapists at the end to learn if their child is improving and who want to stay updated on what they’re children are learning.
I’m just very taken aback by how much the kids do. I often have to remind myself, this is a preschool, yet the kids learn so much. I think the attitude in America towards preschool is that it is glorified daycare that starts to integrate children into society, but real education starts in kindergarten. However at CORAL the kids are constantly learning not just basic social skills, but two languages (LSM and Spanish) as well as reading, writing, and math.
***1 LSM is Lengua de señas mexicana