The wonderful HAPPY program welcomed six classes to our campus this academic year for our interactive, holistic preschool program. Each group took part in four weeks full of lessons and activities designed to grow their comprehension of the English language through songs, art, play and more. The program brought us as much joy as it did the children, who often told us phrases like: “I wake up early when I have HAPPY,” and “I prepared my clothes a day early for HAPPY, I was so excited”.
Alongside the improvements in the children’s learning, HAPPY also supported their teachers’ and parents’ understanding of early childhood development. Preschool teachers observed ULYP teachers and attended a training session hosted in ULYP’s new training room in Beirut. This session explored early childhood brain development, learning stages and the impact of trauma and displacement. The teachers reported learning a number of new skills and noted that the children were better prepared for the next stage of their education as a result of HAPPY. This was validated during ULYP’s visits to the preschools in the camps and gatherings where we were proud to see so much of the HAPPY methodology transferring to these classes. This year, HAPPY directly impacted 140 children, over 100 parents and 18 teachers.
The HAPPY program has been running for over seven years and continues to support early childhood education and development in marginalized communities in and around Beirut and Saida. Now funded by the Beit Jeddi Foundation, we are working with children, teachers and parents across six pre-schools, helping to transform the way young children are taught and supported through their most formative years. This winter, we welcomed over 160 pre-school students and 12 of their teachers to our campus with plenty of room to play and explore. With fun and interactive lessons, the children learnt English and Maths through inquiry and creativity. Our lessons have been combining art, music, drama and games to provide the children with opportunities to learn in a collaborative, creative and inquiry-based way.
Our interventions also involve the teachers, who have been able to observe different teaching styles and take back classroom strategies for student-centered learning. We also organized two parents’ sessions; where parents learn about the science of early childhood development, positive development strategies and how to support children through stress and displacement. The sessions also gave the parents an opportunity to discuss the problems they have at home and share best practices, with our experts and each other. Including the parents and teachers in the program spreads the influence of the program to touch the lives of siblings and classmates outside the HAPPY program. The cumulative effect of these activities ensures that, despite a relatively short intervention, the HAPPY program has a huge impact!
This August, the HAPPY program (Happy Alternative Program for Pre-schoolers and Youth) was in full force, working with 24 children, aged four and five. The program’s learning activities focused on English, maths, art and a lot of outdoor time. The HAPPY program approaches the children as active learners, and engages them in an interactive and immersive learning experience, using stories, songs, art, and activities to support the children’s development.
With all activities taught in English, children developed a good foundation for learning the language in the coming years. It was also an opportunity for the children and teachers to experience a more interactive and hands-on style of learning. The children showed a huge improvement in confidence levels and really enjoyed the variety of activities covered. The wonderful facilities at the campus were perfect for fun in the sun, with lots of time spent in the playground and a final day in a paddling pool! On the last day, the children also received a book bag with paints, paintbrushes, toothpaste and a toothbrush. These gifts are useful for Grade 1 and gave everyone an opportunity to practice the art skills they learnt during the program. They also help ensure that the children are maintaining their oral health; an issue that was also discussed on the ULYP campus.
In addition to all this, ULYP hosted a teacher-training day entitled ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Early Childhood Development’. Sixteen teachers from HAPPY pre-schools across Lebanon attended and increased their ability to support the mental, physical and cognitive development of the children in their care. This project therefore not only improved the lives of the children attending the class, but also of the countless children that will be under the care of these teachers in the future.
With leaves falling and the weather changing, our HAPPY preschool program was packed with activities. The 112 children engaged during this period explored the world around them and learned about hygiene and healthy nutrition along with math, English and outdoor activities. Songs were sung from the top of their lungs, stories were read and acted out and the smiles and laughter during class were contagious!
As always at ULYP, we concluded the program with a Training of Trainers (TOT) designed to sustain the change and expand the opportunity for more children to experience the learning that HAPPY promotes. The teachers from participating preschools attended the session focusing on methodologies, theories and practices to increase math and literacy essentials in their own programs. After the training, teachers understood that one story can be read in many ways and for different learning purposes. One said, “I can’t wait to do a shared reading with my students to get them more engaged and speaking in English in class!”
This season concludes a year of HAPPY in partnership with UNICEF and Taawon Lebanon, within the Support Early Childhood Education Development Program. We look forward to learning with more HAPPY faces in the new year.
As ULYP grows to meet the needs of Lebanon’s youth, we are excited to announce the inauguration of our new preschool in Dibbiyeh on December 19, 2017. The new space allows ULYP to accommodate two classes at a time of 25 students, their teachers and parents for HAPPY. This means double the learning and double the joy!
ULYP is thankful for the generous support of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Taawon Lebanon and Give a Child a Toy that made building and equipping the new preschool possible.
It was a hot summer, yet the HAPPY preschool students stayed cool by exploring sea animals and putting on a play in English for their parents. One hundred five-year-old girls and boys engaged in HAPPY and benefitted from the opportunity to actively learn and explore indoors and outdoors. HAPPY is in partnership with UNICEF and Taawon- Lebanon.
Teachers and staff attended a one-day workshop on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in early childhood education in August, helping them stay up-to-date on the latest research while understanding how to apply the information in the classroom.
“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” Alfie Kohn
The HAPPY program (Happy Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Youth) is off to a very successful start this year. 150 preschoolers and their 12 teachers have completed their sessions on ULYP’s campus in Dibbiyeh. In May, the participating teachers, after having the opportunity to engage in the HAPPY methodology, will attend a one-day workshop to cement their knowledge and understand the rationale behind our approach to teaching and learning so they can continue the change in their preschools.
HAPPY considers children as active learners, and engages the students in an interactive and immersive learning experience that uses stories, songs, art, and activities indoors and outdoors to teach English, math, science, and behavioral skills. During the program, ULYP teachers witnessed increased self-confidence and rapid improvement among the children, particularly in English language and sharing skills. We are halfway through the second module with equally bright and creative students! HAPPY is part of the Support Early Childhood Education Development Program, in partnership with UNICEF and Taawon-Lebanon.