Last June 20, 2014, I was invited by Adarna House through The Learning Library to speak in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. On of my first thoughts was that I have never been to that part of the country. It would surely be an exciting experience to see for myself, the beautiful sceneries that I have heard about and seen only through pictures.
I travelled with the Adarna House team, and among them, I was the giddiest. I would finally step foot on a famously beautiful island. I was not disappointed when we landed, as we were greeted by the Baragatan Festival, from the word which means “to come together.”
Due to the celebration, the city hall was filled with food, products, and shows lined up for the week. As part of the festival, they also organized the 21st Provincial Day Care Workers Convention, a baragatan of day care workers from all over the island. I was reminded that, more than the privilege to attend the festival, the greatest was as an educator, to be able to share what I know to other child development professionals.
When I entered the Starlight Convention Center, the sheer number of people overwhelmed me. Seven hundred participants seemed a lot. It truly looked like a sea of people because of the DCWs turquoise uniforms. But, at the same time, I was excited to impart how to encourage literacy to very young children.
To the active participants, I discussed the principles of emergent literacy, drawing from my experiences in teaching preschool children and in The Learning Library. Many thought that reading and writing only starts at formal schooling. Since day care centers are not schools, they could not and need not teach reading and writing. However, they were introduced to the idea that children could develop literacy skills in the preschool age by recognizing the children’s different abilities. Also, the DCWs were given suggestions on how they could arrange their centers in order to support the children’s literacy development.
It was an honour for me to be asked to share a bit of what I know to many DCWs who have been taking care of Filipino children for many years. Yet, they possessed in them the eagerness to learn new things in order to improve their practices. I hope that with the new knowledge that they got, they were empowered to continue teaching the young. They are, after all, the ones who shape the minds of the future.