Let’s learn through play!

IWitness took us to Indonesia, which is over 18 hours flight away from our home country, Finland. It was clear for all of us that our destination is very different than what we are used to back at home, but we were all very excited to get to know this country better since only one of us had visited Indonesia before.

Children playing at the school yard at one of the ECD-centres we visited. There was no shadow on the yard, but everyone seemed very energetic despite the heat. Photo by Saara Kultamaa.

We got the great opportunity to visit multiple ECD centres and witness the progress of the centres. One of the ECD centres that has been in the programme since August 2017 shows the progress well. The place was colourful and playful, it had two rooms and a nice, sunny yard. As we spoke with the teachers and parents we learned, that they have gotten for example running water, a new toilet, hygiene training and a roof for the toilets after participating the programme. Everyone was very pleased that children can now wash their hands and stay healthier.

At the ECD centre the children learn English by singing songs. Photo by Saara Kultamaa.

Visiting the ECD centres and playing with the kids totally melted my heart. All the kids were happy and joyful even though some of them were a bit shy which is of course totally understandable – we were a bunch of strangers for them after all! Seeing the teachers to do their job was also pleasant to watch: they were very good at what they did, and they took good care of teaching the polite manners to the kids. Through our conversations with the parents and teachers I learned, that teaching the children to be polite and have a good character was agreed to be one of the most important tasks of kindergarten.

Refi is a mother of two boys. Her son goes to one of the ECD centres. Photo by Saara Kultamaa.

Talking with the locals was very special to me and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the lives of the locals. One of the most memorable conversations happened with Refi. Refi is a mother of two boys and a teacher at junior high school. One of her sons is at kindergarten, one of them is still home because he is too young for ECD centre.

Refi told us that her son enjoys going to kindergarten and he has learned many skills there. He has learned better manners and attitude and his communications skills have also improved. Refi is very happy with the teaching at ECD centres: she thinks the teaching methods and materials are now better than before the programme. Refi also mentioned that nowadays her son listens to the teacher better than he listens to the parents – I believe many parents in Finland have similar thoughts of this topic!

Husna, 5, and Alifa, 6, come to school either by motorcycle or by walk. They think that the best part of school is playing on the school yard. Photo by Saara Kultamaa.

We also had the opportunity to talk with the children. Asking kids what they wish to be when they grow up revealed, that the dreams of the children are similar no matter the place you live. They want to become teachers, doctors, nurses and policemen just to mention a few. It was also great to hear that the children enjoy going to kindergarten, to learn new things and of course to play. I was happy to see that they have free playing time as a part of the schedule for the day.

Visiting the ECD centres made it possible for us to play, sing, laugh, chat and draw with the kids. ECD centres offers the children a possibility to be a child and to develop in the good care of the teachers. “Playing is children’s work” as we say it in Finland and this was what we could also see at the centres in Indonesia. Let’s play for change!

    Saara Kultamaa