Hi, Everyone! I hope you are all having a relaxing summer while keeping up with community service in your area.
This summer, I have been staying with Jennifer Vertetis, the Charles Lafitte President, in Washington State. Even though I miss my family back east, my best friend always says “West Coast, Best Coast”. So it has been fun seeing what this side of the country has to offer.
I currently have an internship at the Experimental Education Unit (EEU) at the University of Washington. There, I am working in project DATA with 7 adorable special needs children. In this program, preschoolers work on goals to improve skills such as body language, knowing the difference between thoughts and feelings, expressing those thoughts and feelings, and more. It is great to watch these preschoolers excel in their goals.
To start the day, I stop at a Starbucks (They are on every street here!), and head off to the Haring Center located on the campus of University of Washington. The two head teachers and I set up for the day. Once the students arrive, we have “circle time”. During this activity, we read a book about one of the goals mentioned above, talk about our schedule, and set up a reward system for good behavior. Next, we do a small group activity that pertains to our daily goal. An example of this is designing an obstacle course as a class which links to learning to compromise and work together. Pretend play is next. This activity is similar to acting because we create, plan, and go through a scene. This helps in learning team work, playing with others, and following directions. After pretend play, we have free choice. During free choice, it is a time for the kids to choose their activities but play with each other to work towards their individualized goals. Throughout the day the kids earn a reward that is due by the end of the day. The kids either receive a painting party (my personal favorite), play-dough party, movie party, popsicle party, popcorn party, or dance party. Once the reward party in complete, the kids change into swimsuits and we go outside and splash around. Then sadly, it is time to put them back on the bus to go home.
It has been an amazing experience. I expected to learn a lot about behavioral teaching, but I never expected to miss each child when they miss a day of school or to create such profound relationships with these young minds. As I go into my last week at the EEU, I can’t wait to see what the kids have in store for me.