By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
In an exclusive interview on the topic ‘Building Holistic Foundation Through Nursery Education,” the Head of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in SBEC International School, Mr. Ousman Trawally, enjoined ECD facilitators to prepare and present their lessons using the thematic approach, adding that it is the internationally recommended teaching and learning approach through which all the six learning areas are taught on the same theme. This, he said, facilitates brain cells coordination and multiple skills acquisition as it nurtures the natural gift in each child, and allows him or her grow and reach his or her full potentials.
He said the six learning areas are language- literacy and communication, creative development, mathematical development, physical development, personal-social and emotional development, knowledge and understanding of the world.
“Mentally, it helps the children to develop thinking skills, language skills, reasoning and calculation skills and memory skills among others. Socially, it helps the child to build and maintain positive interaction and relationships with both peers and adults. It inculcates discipline and attitude of appreciation and thankfulness. Emotionally, it helps in the moral training of the child’s mind and character, towards orderliness, self control and obedience, system of rule, tolerance and patience with a high sense of sympathy, self confidence and self esteem. Physically, it helps the child’s body healthy, strong and alert, with consciousness of proper nutrition. This is holistic child development in building the foundation for positive, resourceful and responsible adults,” said Mr. Trawally.
He said parents should be committed in sending their children to school and work closely with the school authorities.
Answering questions on extra-curricular activities, Mr. Trawally said holistic development of a child is not only limited to academy and its curricular activities but also extra-curricular activities as they are equally important to the child’s development.
He added that ‘no’ child-centered approach can be holistic without extra-curricular activities as it contributes 43% to the child’s mental, social, emotional and physical development because play is to children as work is to adults. In addition to academic education, he said it is believed that children need to have self-help and career skills which they can utilize for a better livelihood in the future.
He cited: “Our thoughts should always be ‘the child before self’. We believe that in any adult endeavour, the interest of the child should be the priority. Whatever we do with them, for them and in their presence, should be in their best interest. This means that all parents, teachers, siblings and caregivers, should always remember that the child’s living environment is very sensitive. They learn whatever they live with.”
He said adults should always try to model good practices before them, saying: “We do not have to criticize them and others before them because, if a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. We do not have to be hostile with them or fight before them because if a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. We should not cause them to live in a ridiculous life because if a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy. We should not put them in shameful mood because if a child lives with shame, he lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.”
Mr. Trawaally, who doubles as a national EDC trainer, finally urged facilitators to be tolerant, noting that tolerance brings peace and with peace there can be smooth teaching and learning for a better Gambian future.
By Saikou Suwareh Jabai