Three weeks into our after-school program, so much wonderful stuff has already happened that I have to get some of it off my chest. The kids’ personalities are just starting to emerge, their skills are sharpening, and consequently, the days are increasingly fun. Concurrent with the play that goes on there is also a fairly rigorous–for elementary-school-age children–structure to the program. We open with a fifteen-minute snack in the cafeteria where all the children gather. This gives them a second to unwind before the bulk of the teaching begins and they are divided into two groups: the visual artists and the musicians.
- Mixing oil and watercolors – learning about resists
The visual artists go with Tremain Smith who immerses them in making art. Teaching assistants Ms. Rachel and Ms. Stevie, both Temple affiliates, help out in the classroom, and on some days when Ms. Tremain can’t make it, Ms. Lisa, a teaching artist who worked with Al-Bustan last year, fills in.
It is relatively early in the program, so we are building a foundation for future art projects by reviewing and learning foundational art concepts and skills such as texture, line, color, shadow, scale. So far, the students have enjoyed art so much that they do not even mind when art has gotten them in trouble with their parents. For example, Yaseen (Little Yusef, for those of you in the know) got a few stains on his shirt after the first day. I response, Yaseen justified this to his mother with a bold, and profound, statement claiming these splotches on his shirt were in fact art (“but mama, this is art!”).
What the kids are doing looks like so much fun; I often find myself wishing that I was allowed to just sit and paint with the group. For the last hour of the program, the teaching assistants and I jump in to help the kid with their homework so that when they go home after 6pm they can actually relax and unwind a bit.
- Serge El Helou leads students in the music skills session
Following choir, they split into two groups that are distinguished by those who previously drummed with Mr. Hafez and those who are new to the program. One group does percussion with Mr. Hafez (who is a very popular teacher at Moffet) and another group goes with Mr. Hanna or Mr. Serge to practice music drills and exercises in Western and Arab music. Every time I hear the drum or sing I’m amazed by how quickly these kids learn new concepts and skills. They are already pretty good at matching pitches and have learned so many drum rhythms. I cannot wait to see what they are adept at in the next few weeks!