Erin Mueller, Early Literacy Coordinator
Working as the lead ENL Preschool teacher has been such a positive, eye-opening experience, thus far. It’s a strange transition coming from teaching in a kindergarten classroom where all students spoke English and, in turn, understood every word I ever spoke to them. It has been fantastic being able to interact with and learn about the parents of our preschoolers. I love that they share their cultural customs with me and their peers. The main struggle we have had was the separation anxiety that occurred the first few months of preschool. Most of our families are recent refugees from the Middle East, which in their cases has created a true fear of separation from their parents in the eyes of the preschoolers. Who can blame them, though? They had to flee their country that they were so familiar with and come to a new country where they can barely speak a sentence of its predominant language? With the first few months of preschool came tears and fears, especially when attempting to walk to a local park. However, with a little patience, as anticipated, those tears and fears eventually turned into smiles and curiosity. We have since been able to follow a structured preschool morning. The children have been learning their numbers, colors, and letters. Their favorite part of the day (aside from snack time) seems to be music and movement – an environment in which their English thrives. I have roughly five months remaining of my AmeriCorps term of service. I hope to have the preschoolers using simple English sentences and recognizing the English alphabet by the end of the school year.