Teaching younger children is a great challenge. I need more patience in dealing with different behavior and preferences of my students. By God's grace, I am happy facing it every day. One of the things that I really treasure this year is having a classroom routine.
It has become my secret recipe in maintaining a friendly and a fruitful day in class. When I adapted Responsive classroom it allows me to create a more functional routine and it gives me confidence in managing my class effectively. It also provides students more opportunities to choose to be a responsible learner. I learn to consider students' expectations not just giving my expectations to them.
To make classroom routine effective, I need to be consistent with the set expectations. There are challenging days and inspiring days too. And I thank the Lord for both. As a teacher I need to stick to my plans and know that each passing day brings new learning and each new day gives new hope and a new beginning.
"If you have a good habit, time becomes your ally. All you need is patience."
– James Clear
Prior to Covid, one of the things that children at CSC looked forward to was an appointment off campus. Older kids loved going to the dentist and getting an ice cream treat after. Younger kids were excited just riding in vehicles and seeing all the cars and motorcycles. These have not been an option since the shelter has been on lockdown. Medical consultations have been completed online, lab tests are done in the infirmary, and even eye check-ups are done at the shelter now.
There were a few exceptions, including for this five-year-old boy, who left campus recently for a hearing test. On the way, he looked through the window of the vehicle with a sparkle in his eye! It was as if everything was new to him. He pointed and described every truck and car, as well as the people and animals on the road.
This boy was so sickly prior to the pandemic, and he spent a lot of time at clinics to see a pediatrician or pulmonologist. And there he was now, just going for a routine hearing test. The CSC lockdown has somehow kept him healthy, away from all the dust that caused his frequent asthma attacks. But it has also limited his exposure to the environment outside the CSC walls. Through it all, he was one happy kid, having to spend a few hours outdoors.
They said that time heals. True. However, time alone could not do all the stitches. Most of the children here in CSC have a myriad of wounds to heal from their past. A wound on their knees would only take a week to heal but a wound made when no one helped them to get up would take years, a hundred of CSC outings, and relationships. Some have spent most of their childhood here. And that's a lot of time yet most of them are still haunted by the ghosts of their past— the phantom of neglect, rejection, abandonment, and the monstrous impact of separation from their significant others. Time is not enough.
I've been working with these children for three years and I've witnessed how these ghosts have influenced their behaviors and perspective of their own selves and their lives. Despite these, I've also observed how the love and care provided by the houseparents, aunties (caregivers), and other staff in CSC have greatly lessened the grip of these ghosts in their lives. Because of this, children have retaken the cape of their childhood. Trust has sprouted again and has blossomed into friendship and family. It is truly magical to witness how a child trusts an adult again. A positive and healthy relationship is, for me, the greatest healing the child could have. In counseling, we highly value relationships as this always precedes any counseling techniques. Although it has always been a challenge gaining the children's trust, art has paved the way for us, counselors, to see and hear their stories. It has been a great tool for us to deal with resistant children in counseling. Art allows the child to express himself/herself in ways he/she is most comfortable to. It allows the child to "reflect their inner worlds, depicting various feelings" (Malchiodi, 1998). Art helps the children share their stories to us in a non-threatening way. It allows the child to have full control of their creation. Painting, drawing, music, and photography are the usual art modalities chosen by the boys.
The pictures above are just some of the ways to utilize art in helping children become aware of the ghosts of their past. Some, especially the older ones, have slowly faced their past in a more positive and hopeful way. I am hoping that the time they spend here in CSC would help them see the collateral beauty in pain.
They said that time heals. True. It is true but time is not enough to do all the stitches. Instead, time allows our crushed spirit to get up; to acknowledge pain and becomes familiar to it; to understand that our pain has an ending; to have relationships blossom; to ignite a new dream; to see that all along God has been stirring the wheel. And time helps the children to better understand that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28, NKJV).
Most of us, if not all, have been taught by our parents or guardians to say "I Love You." Though we might not know what that means at a very young age, as it's hard to fathom what love is when you're three years old. But over time, with experience, we understand what it means.
Our homes at CSC are not only a place of refuge for the children we serve but also a place of love.
Most of our caregivers have been working with us for more than a decade. And in that time, some of them have formed a special bond with the children they care for. Likewise, our children have found a safe place with their caregivers. They have learned what it feels to be valued and loved.
One particular 6-year-old boy recently knew that his Auntie (his caregiver) lost her husband years ago. That meant his Auntie no longer had her loved one with her. And because he loved his Auntie, he offered to be her husband. For sure the little boy is unaware of what it meant. But for him, it was an innocent and genuine act of love. The scenario was cute and funny, but it tugged the hearts of our caregivers.
The children at CSC come with different stories and different abilities but we love them all the same. And that speaks heavily to the children as they also see sameness and no difference in one another.
A new child joining the CSC family is welcomed with so much love. The same way a child is hugged with so much love by his friends before he leaves and joins his forever family. Love remains even after a child leaves the shelter. It remains no matter how near or far the distance is. Love continues in the heart of a resident as he spreads his wings into the community and in the heart of a child as he starts forever with a family. Still love continues in the hearts of parents who welcomed a new member of the family.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 NIV "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
CCHS is back on track. After the "storms" that made us clasp our hands and bend our knees in prayers, the Lord has been gracious and faithful to His children.
Our water pump was replaced with a new one so we can have flowing water in all of our faucets. Thanks to Uncle Jerry and his men who made this possible.
Our supplier of drinking water also delivered in the afternoon. This same day we quarantined twenty-three workers at CCHS.
Our power from the grid was reconnected. We had been using our generator in the evenings for lights, fans, and charging our laptops and cellphones.
And soon, our internet will be restored. We are finally back to teaching children at the shelter. We praise the Lord for preserving our lives and sustaining us through the "storms".
With this journey we are grateful for those who prayed for us and to those who supported us in many ways. You made a lot of things possible on this side of the globe. You have allowed us to make a difference in the lives of the children in the shelter.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (English Standard Version)
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Praise the Lord!