Stichting EGO provides training for teachers and youth leaders | THE DAILY HERALD

Participants pose after receiving their certificates.

PHILIPSBURG–Teachers of the Catholic early stimulation schools, youth leaders and staff of various organisations of the island’s afternoon school programmes recently attended a two-week training session organised by Stichting Expertise Centrum “Ervaringsgericht Onderwijs St. Maarten Stichting” EGO.

These trainings were funded by the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF).

Those in attendance were the Stichting EGO, No Kidding with Our Kids Foundation, Sister Marie Laurence Community School, Alpha and Omega Foundation and Belvedere Community Foundation.

Training on enquiry-based learning was also provided to Cycle 2 teachers of the Catholic schools by Bart Coppes, an expert in enquiry-based learning who also met with staff and management of St. Dominic High School on Beta and Tech mentality.

“The core of the trainings was the awareness of what children in St. Maarten need in order to develop into resilient, self-confident, independent and enterprising people. Based on observations and previous experiences, trainers and participants discussed the importance of play, the value of homework and the creation of a good, challenging environment so that children can develop optimally,” said the release.

Stichting EGO president Rita Uiterloo and pedagogical ecologist Wilma van Esch met each other for the first time in a school for experiential education in the Netherlands in 1998. Together with Professor Ferre Laevers from Belgium, the father of experiential education, Van Esch wrote two books about seeing and appreciating development in children and what that means for the approach as teachers and youth leaders.

In the years that Van Esch visited St. Maarten, she noted a lot had changed on the island: the expansion of Internet and air-conditioning in schools, increased traffic and more inhabited land on the island. She also noted the devastation that Hurricane Irma caused.

“Hurricane Irma showed how much resilience and perseverance people have, and what the power of connection and cooperation means,” said Van Esch.

Youth leaders said during sessions that in the period after Hurricane Irma, many children were suddenly seen playing outside again. They played soccer and were cycling.

According to Van Esch, those are important things for balanced child development. Early stimulation and afternoon schools are places to play and share, places of inestimable value for the development of children in St. Maarten. “Because many people have to work hard, have multiple jobs and because the physical space that children can use has decreased, the hours spent in the after-school care is of great importance,” said the release.

In the trainings teachers and youth leaders worked on the teaching style and how to create rich and challenging play and learning environments with a focus on the awareness of what children need to develop optimally.

There were far-reaching discussions about doing homework, about what is feasible and desirable.

“Children cannot work eight hours concentrated on schoolwork. They need variety and relaxation, but also challenge and inspiration,” said the release.

According to Van Esch, “Children have to work and play together, explore and understand the world around them, see how you can make that world beautiful and healthy. It is good to think about our children and make sure they get the right challenges and inspiration to develop into powerful adults.”

During an evaluation session in the presence of SMDF programme manager Melanie Choisy, the coordinators and directors of the afterschool programmes discussed the importance of education and training sessions for youth leaders on issues such as social welfare, child development and the critical thinking process.

They also discussed the possibility of a national afterschool convention and the need to inform and educate parents on child development, said the release.

Alejandro Francisco of Stichting EGO put a plan of action together with Merlyn Schaminee of the Lions Club and No Kidding with Our Kids that provided the location for all trainings. “Their focus on behalf of the after-school [care providers – Ed.] who collaborated well together will be to create a body of after-school care programmes so that their impact through one mission, objective and vision will be stronger,” said the release.

Stichting EGO extended its appreciation to SMDF for supporting the need for education, recreation for the youth and further development of the youth leaders.

Source: The Daily Herald