The Gradinita Rasarit kindergartens have been enjoying increasing enrollments and high demand, which is a welcome relief after several years of crisis. We also have added new members into our teaching team, and in the 2011-12 schoolyear year they went through a well structured professional development program in Neohumanist Education in 4 Saturday sessions. The Neohumanist Education Curriculum that our team has been working on for the past two years served as a basis for the training, and have helped to improve the integration of new members into the team, providing more clarity about the methodology and approach.
Our Neohumanist Early Childhood Education Curriculum underwent a rigorous review and revision process with the help of a committee formed by the international body responsible for the standards and quality of Neohumanist Education around the world and has at last received their endorsement. The Romanian version of the Neohumanist Curriculum was just submitted in November 2012 to Ministry of Education for accreditation as a national educational alternative. Once approved, this will permit us to utilize a 100% Neohumanist curriculum in our kindergartens. Up until now, we are required to utilize the standard Romanian kindergarten curriculum, which we then adapt to the Neohumanist approach, but having our own curriculum accredited will give us much greater freedom to express Neohumanist Education to its fullest potential, and it will be a great step forward in receiving recognition for our system.
The program in the 2011-2012 schoolyear was diverse and creative in both kindergartens. In both locations, we invited our friends from the Fire Department, who came in fire fighter gear and taught the kids about fire safety.
In the Mihai Bravu Kindergarten, the children celebrated world cultures by focusing on Egypt – and an Egyptian ambassador came to the kindergarten, presenting the children with papyrus scrolls and showing slides of his country. In Bucuresti Noi, the children had a Spanish fiesta, with costumes and lots of dancing!
Our yearly theme of “Many faces, one human heart” about human diversity included a visit from Marius – a young man with cerebral palsy who attended the kindergarten when he was little, and Diipani Iulia Halangescu, AMURTEL’s Executive Director who is of Roma ethnicity. The kindergarten’s approach to overcoming stereotypes is to form warm friendships with people from minority groups.
In Bucuresti Noi, a total of 7 socially disadvantaged children attended the kindergarten through a partnership with the Department of Social Services. It was a chance to make a difference in the lives of these small children, and the parents also benefited from guidance and support from our staff. This is another facet of our inclusive education program, in addition to the inclusion of 3 special needs children in Mihai Bravu kindergarten.
The children made clay pottery at the traditional village of Piscu
There were also several special excursions organized – one of the highlights was a trip to a traditional village of pottery makers, where the children got a chance to work on pottery wheels and play with clay. We also went to visit a Salt Mine, deep under the earth with salty high vaulted walls, giving the impression of a massive cathedral, and tiny flecks of salt filling the air. Salt Mines are considered a therapeutic treatment, and a general health tonic, especially for children that tend to get colds – so many of the parents were happy that we organized this trip. It was an extremely hot day, but deep underground, the temperature was cool enough that we had to dress in warm jackets and hats! That day ended with a picnic outdoors alongside a salt lake and playing on inflatable slides and a trampolene.
In Bucuresti Noi, the end of the year programs were affected by an outbreak of chicken pox, but luckily most of the children were able to participate in the annual theater performance of Cinderella. In Mihai Bravu, the children performed a version of a famous Romanian story “Veronica”, similar to Alice in Wonderland. The “Ladybugs” family of smaller children performed a story about an apple tree.
The school year concluded with a very special event – an overnight pijama party! The day began with our annual much-loved excursion to go horseriding. We returned to the kindergarten after a picnic lunch, and the children had a nap….Then they helped make pizzas – each child got to decorate their own pizza according to their imagination! They also helped decorate the courtyard with lots of balloons and streamers, and then we had a dance party – with musical chairs and other games – including apple bobbing! After dinner, Didi played her flute to help the children settle down, and then we had an open-air movie theater, complete with popcorn and icecream, and lit sparklers in the courtyard for a grand finale! It was exciting for the children to sleep in their familiar naptime beds overnight – so it took some time for all eyes to close, even after such a long and fun day! The next day, the fun continued with a pinata and splashing in the pool! Our dedicated teachers were quite exhausted after such a long 2 days – but everyone was very satisfied and happy with the memorable experience that the children had!
In the summer, we organized a special staff training with A. Uttama, an American midwife and yoga teacher working for years in Greece, in which she shared a yoga-based approach to prenatal care, infant massage and yoga for mothers and babies. The training was the first step in preparing for a new program called “Morningstar” which will provide services for expecting and new mothers and their infants. We hope to open the Morninstar project in October 2013, once we have been able to add an extension above the kindergarten in Bucuresti Noi neighborhood.
The schoolyear is now underway again, which began with our annual tradition of the “Autumn Bazaar”. Both kindergartens enjoyed good weather for the bazaars, so they were held outside in the courtyards with lots of delicious food and hand made crafts made by the children!