Family Experiences: Early Learning Program during the Pandemic

Even during the pandemic, Nanay Lani May Alcantara is one of the parents who still enrolled their children in their barangay’s Child Development Center (CDC) in San Fernando, Pampanga. A mother to three-year-old *Cassie, she is one of the millions of parents who are trying to find the balance between doing housework and teaching their child at home.

Meanwhile, in Tiwi, Albay, Tatay Salem Coriño is handling his small business, while his wife Nanay Ellen Coriño continues to finish her studies to become a teacher. All of these are done while both of them are also trying their best to be hands-on parents to their four-year-old son *Mark, who is also enrolled in their barangay’s CDC.

*The names of the children in this article have been changed for their privacy.

Support by Teachers

Despite the challenges and hurdles, both families do not see their child’s early learning program as a burden to their families. This is mainly attributed to the fact they both have a strong support and guidance system from their Child Development Worker (CDW). In fact, both parents appreciate the modules that were sent to their children to do at home.

Nanay Lani shared that the modules were not hard because they were given clear instructions and flexible guidelines, “Hindi naman po kailangan matapos ‘yung module sa isang paraan lang. Tinuruan po kami na kung may maiisip kaming ibang paraan para magawa ‘yung module, pwede namin itong gawin.”

As for Nanay Ellen, she makes sure that the modules are not rushed because according to her, “Dahan-dahan namin ginagawa ‘yun. Iniisa-isa ko ‘yung modules niya at nag re-research pa ako ng additional resources. Ang importante naman po ay ma-achieve ‘yung lesson.” When asked why she did it this way, she shared that their CDW shared that the process as to how the activity is done is also as important as the output of the activity.

Both families also shared that they were confident to teach their child because they were well-equipped, according to Nanay Lani, “Tinuturo din ni teacher kung paano ituturo sa anak namin.”

As teachers work hard to implement early learning programs under the new normal, it can clearly be seen that they are guided by the foundation that the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council has instilled in its training programs – that they should always work hand in hand with the parents when it comes to implementing various activities and lessons. Even before the pandemic, assessment results are discussed with families and both the teacher and the parents work together to help children achieve holistic development.

Parents from San Fernando, Pampanga are being guided on how to guide their children in doing activities for their weekly module.

Children Learning at Home

One of the common answers that both families shared is that they always wait for their child to be in the mood to do the activities before doing them for the day. For Nanay Lani, “Hinuhuli ko muna yung mood niya,” and for Tatay Salem, “Hinuhuli ko muna ‘yung kiliti niya.”

When asked why they do this first, they both explained that their CDWs explained that children learn better if they are willing to do so. That is why the parents were given tips on how the teacher catches children’s attention in the CDC and that is through doing an activity that they are interested in and by setting a child’s expectation through routines and proper explanation.

Aside from that, the modules were not also set in stone. Being a flexible learning tool, the parents were able to see how the lessons and activities branched out from what was planned by the teacher.

In one of the activities, Tatay Salem shared, “May isang beses po pinagawa kami ng family tree. So gumawa kami tapos nung natapos na nakita namin si *Mark nag dra-drawing ng sarili niyang family tree tapos sinama niya ‘yung kapitbahay namin na sister daw niya tapos yung pinsan naman niya ‘yung baby namin. May isa naman po ‘yung shapes. Bukod po sa drawing saka kulay, nakikita namin pinagsasama-sama niya ‘yung mga ‘yun tapos nakakagawa siya ng bahay, minsan pa nga dinosaur.” When asked what the teacher thought about this, he shared that their CDW advised them to support their child in thinking outside what is prepared in their module.

*Cassie doing household chores at home

As for Nanay Lani, she shared that she appreciated the lessons on taking care of oneself and home.

“Natuto siya maligo at mag toothbrush mag-isa. May kusa din siya kapag nakita niyang madumi ‘yung bahay sasabihin na lang niya bigla na, ‘Naglinis na ako!’ So ‘yung mga lessons naa-adapt niya talaga tapos siya na ‘yung nagkukusa gawin ‘yun mag-isa.”

In both instances, the parents have shared that these learning experiences were gladly welcomed and encouraged by their CDWs.

Support from other Families

Aside from their CDWs, both parents also acknowledged the help and new learnings that they get from other families in their community.

Nanay Lani shared that, “Kapag meron po kaming sessions with other parents, naririnig ko ‘yung experiences nila na syempre hindi namin na-eexperience sa pamilya namin. Pumapasok ‘yung sharing ng mga pamilya na hindi mo nararanasan. Tapos nakakakuha ka ng idea kung paano iha-handle ‘yung mga bata.”

On the other hand, Tatay Salem and Nanay Ellen are both members of an online chat group with other parents enrolled in the CDC, and that is where they share their experiences in working on their modules and even planning a nutritious menu for their children. “Doon po nakakapag kwentuhan kami kung paano tuturuan ‘yung mga anak namin at nagkakaroon ng communication with other parents. So minsan ang gulo-gulo na namin doon tapos si teacher na yung moderator namin,” Tatay Salem said.

Both families also shared that they are glad to be a part of a group where they can learn from each other’s experiences. They also appreciate that the Center paved the way for the creation of a strong support group for parents like them.

Before the pandemic, the parents from Tiwi, Albay would gather to share their experiences in raising their child. Now, this is being done through a group chat where everyone can share experiences in doing their child’s activities at home.

Fun Learning Programs for the Whole Family

During the course of the interview, both families showed no signs of displeasure in teaching their children at home. In fact, both families shared that they were having fun while they were teaching their child at home.

In a lighthearted tone, Tatay Salem shared that, “Yung pagkatuto ng anak namin ngayong pandemic para siyang virus kasi nakakahawa ‘yung pagiging jolly niya habang natututo. Nahahawa niya kaming parents at natututo din po kami. Kahit nga mga kalaro niya ay nahahawa din at natututo sa kanya.”

The Coriño family working on *Mark’s activity together.

As for Nanay Lani, “Hindi naman po ako nahihirapan kasi enjoy kami. Gusto nung anak ko lahat ng lessons niya. So kung mag-enjoy sila, mag-enjoy na din tayo kasi tayo ‘yung nagtuturo.”

The Alcantara family doing practical life skills together.

Everyone does not have any idea when children can go back to the NCDCs and CDCs. But as everyone waits for the time when the Centers are filled with children again, this article hopes that families will be able to find the joy in learning together and that by doing so, everyone will be able to face the new normal with a joyful and childlike heart.

The ECCD Council, through the NCDCs, assists in training teachers or CDWs in Child Development Centers. That is why even though we cannot conduct face-to-face training, we still find ways to conduct our Human Resources Development Programs using alternative modalities with the help of technology. We strive to do this in order for more families to experience quality and joyful early learning programs in their communities.