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מרכז לקהילה האפריקאית בירושלים

Children's Activities: Learning for Both Children and Parents

The average refugee or asylum seeker’s schedule is incredibly busy. Between work and watching your children, there is almost no time for other activities. Thus, to find the time to attend Hebrew classes on a regular basis can be nearly impossible. That is where Children’s Activities comes in. The JACC provides Hebrew classes for mothers on Mondays and Thursdays, twice a week. The problem that this created was that there was nobody to take care of the children in this time, and thus many could not attend. In Children’s Activities, the mothers who would like to take the Hebrew classes can leave their children with a group of volunteers, lead by Shiran Shasha, to be taken care of during the lessons. These Hebrew lessons are extremely important to the students, as it gives busy mothers a chance to be challenged academically, a break from taking care of their children, and a better understanding of Hebrew, which can be incredibly useful in day to day life.

The Children’s Activities program was arranged for children between the ages of three and seven. Children between these ages vary greatly in their levels of physical and mental development, and thus there is a huge difference in what different children can do, learn, or understand. In response, two separate groups were created for the children. For the younger group, the volunteers read stories and play an array of games for small children. The older group is taught the basics of hebrew. This includes learning the alphabet, important grammatical rules, and some basic vocabulary. In both groups the children are generally spoken to in hebrew, and improve. This is vital for the children, as while many of them are born in Israel, their parents are not, and many of the mothers don’t know hebrew fluently, and in some cases at all, and are consequently not spoken to in Hebrew. The activities also provide a place for children of a variety of ages to learn and grow, and to just play around and have fun with each other. It isn’t always easy, because even with the separation between the two classes, the variety of ages and development in each class are huge, and thus extreme care and effort must be taken in order to accommodate the different activities different children can or cannot do. This problem is a perplexing one, but the volunteers work hard to take care of and interact with all of the children, no matter their age. Thus, this one incredible program gives the opportunity for both child and mother to learn a new language and grow.

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