Fun Today — Educational Foundations for Tomorrow

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By Nicole Duciaume
Posted on 6/24/2014


Last month, Nicole Duciaume, our sponsor relations manager for the Americas region, visited some communities in Guatemala to observe ChildFund’s programs and sponsorship activities there. One of her stops took her to a ChildFund-supported home-based preschool.

The pavement stopped on the outskirts of a small village tucked into a crevice of Guatemala’s mountainous countryside. We walked the rest of the two miles up a steady incline, passing by houses made of scrap metal amid small plots of land, the air rich with the smell of dark soil and freshly sprouting plants. We came to an opening in a field of corn. As we descended toward a small building, I could hear the all-too-familiar sound of children’s laughter erupting from a home opened to us for two hours a week to host a community-based early childhood education center. We had arrived at our destination.


The children were already in the middle of a game. Divided into two competing lines, the children were each to catch a ball gently tossed by a volunteer guide mother and then place it into a basket. The staff from the local partner organization cheered them on, and more volunteer mothers helped the younger ones. This race, filled with laughter and balls flying in all directions, had a purpose beyond the noisy fun. The game was also designed to improve the children’s hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.

Next, the volunteers passed out small pieces of paper formed into tubes. The children brought these slowly to their lips and used them as trumpets that amplified the noises they made, helping them realize the power of their voices and the variety of sounds they could produce. This trumpeting was actually social language skills development.

The staff and volunteers then led the children to a large mirror propped up by the edge of the play yard. The children initially stared at themselves quizzically, trying to figure out who was in the reflection — most had seen only small hand mirrors before. Within seconds, they were posing with their friends, and their confidence grew. This posturing was to improve body- and self-recognition and motor control.


From there, the children gathered in a circle and echoed a poem identifying the parts of the body: “cabeza, hombros, cintura, rodillas, pies” (head, shoulders, waist, knees and feet). They twisted their small bodies to the rhythm of the poem, giggling all the while. In this village, most of the children speak K’iche’, and this exercise was to help them with their Spanish language acquisition in preparation for school.

Our visit ended just as the children were settling into small groups to color, paint, draw and write to their sponsors. This activity brought about the most smiles of the day. And though they were happily coloring and making a mess with paint, in reality they were exploring new mediums of self-expression while developing their fine motor skills through manipulating pencil and paper.


It all seemed like child’s play. And it was: fun for today, but educational foundations for tomorrow.