Island News

Preparing kids for life

Written By : VASITI RITOVA. Tema Raikuna has only one child, a 28-year-old son. But her existence now revolves around a bunch of kids of all sizes and talent. Their
01 Aug 2009 12:00

image Written By : VASITI RITOVA. Tema Raikuna has only one child, a 28-year-old son.
But her existence now revolves around a bunch of kids of all sizes and talent.
Their perception of life, she shares, goes beyond adults’ expectations.
To be honest, they are honest, she says.
Raikuna has been a pre-school teacher for the last 12 years and the prospects of teaching kids has just become an exciting opportunity.
For her, the rewarding partnership with the community at Mt Saint Mary’s Kindergarten in Nadi is one grand experience.
Like all teachers, Raikuna has become a friend to her students through the years.
“It’s been 12 years for me,” she said.
“I find it very satisfying, just being around kids and watching them grow as they learn at an early age.”
“I am content with the job because my children share their lives with me,” she said.
“It’s fun to have someone walk up to me and ask a question we all feel borders on silliness – but it is a wonderful feeling to sit down and start explaining in kids language what they want to know.”
“It is a very rewarding life and experience!”
Raikuna, originally of Oneata Island in Lau and married to the Raikuna Family of Nabuli, Rewa, celebrated her work with these kids during the 2009 National Pre-school Week at Mt Saint Mary’s. She has been a widow for the last six years after the passing of her husband in Nadi. They live in Waqadra.
The pre-school week celebrations were a chance to celebrate her partnership and also explore the kids’ potential to try and engage them in discovering and developing their talents.
“A lot of our kids learn at their own pace and this is the most critical aspect of pre-school learning,” she said.
“Being four and five year-olds, their learning style is mostly based upon their abilities to learn at play.”
“Our lessons are mostly based on play and because it is what we know is happening in a kid’s mind,” she said. “The curriculum we use to convey these lessons homes in on play.”
Mount St Mary’s Kindergarten celebrated the 2009 National Pre-school Week with lots of fun and games. Parents and guardians were there in full force.
Mere Lutuciri-Williams, President of Mt St Mary’s Kindergarten Committee, said the involvement of Losana Nagan, who she said was “Nadi’s “best reading” teacher” was a huge plus for the children.
“She conducts reading workshops for pre-schoolers in many of Nadi’s schools,” Williams said.
“Her main message to us parents and guardians was the importance of not forcing our children to read but to instead teach them to learn at their own pace,” she said. “This would enable them to enjoy the learning process.”
“Even if kids are reading pictures or scribbling on papers, all that is their learning process and parents/guardians should praise their efforts and never compare them to other children,” Williams added.
Mt St Mary’s Kindergarten uses the Mataniciva (Pearl) curriculum, Raikuna shared, which was written with the help of one of Nagan.
She is class teacher for Class Two at St. Mary Primary School and is an expert on Early Childhood Education
Williams said parents and guardians learned the pros and cons of how to actively participate in kids’ learning processes at an early age.
“We were told that children develop at different rates and parents must be patient and understanding,” she said. “Reading with our kids should be a routine at home.
“She (Nagan) concluded her speech to us by conducting a short phonics reading session where we, parents and guardians participated with the children,” she added. “This is the basics of reading that our kids at Kindy are being taught and it was indeed an eye opener for parent/guardians.”
Raikuna is ably assisted by Mrs. Rikou and together, they teach more than 40 children at two sessions.
They also have parents as “helpers” during the week to help manage the kids with their daily programmes.
Mt St Mary’s 2009 National Pre-school Week celebrated was highlighted with a grand demonstration from Smokey and the Smoke House, a fun activity put together with the help of the Planning Committee and the National Fire Authority.
Vodafone ATH Foundation also provided some support,” Williams added.
“The children were all so excited to see Smokey but at the end of the day learned valuable lessons on how to react in a house full of smoke,” she said. “The parents and guardians also crawled through the Smoke House behind the children.
More than 50 children and 20 parents and guardians attended the Mt St Mary function, an occasion Raikuna shared brought home some of life’s best realities when it comes to pre-school and kids.
“I have a great parent network and support system,” Raikuna said. “They are active in their kids’ participation in the learning process here and they make the going great for all of us!”
Mt St Mary’s Kindergarten takes in at least 90 kids, Raikuna said.
“The four year olds come to school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from half past 11 in the morning, and go home at 2pm.”
“The five year olds come daily and start at 8: 30 and finish at 11am.”
“It is a wonderful learning experience and one that will help make me a happy person, always,” she said.
“I have a 28-year-old son but my life is now contented,” she said.
It’s a way to prepare the kids of Mount St Mary’s Kindergarten the Raikuna way.

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