After a very warm reception complete with dessert last night at Cerrito Azul, a school for children with exceptionalities in San Juan de Miraflores, part of our group returned today to spend the day there.
The children at the school range in age from two and up, but in some cases adults participate in the programs as well. The school teaches children with physical or mental exceptionalities how to be independent. They have very limited resources to do this and the teachers are incredibly resourceful with the materials they do have. At the reception last night, the director of the school explained the methods that curriculum and methods the teachers use. At Cerrito Azul, teachers do not give orders, but rather ask questions that lead the kids to their own conclusions. For example, when a child is getting ready to go outside, they will not say ‘Put on your coat and zip it up’. Instead, they ask the child ‘What will you do so that you won’t be cold outside?’. Once he or she has the coat on, the teacher will ask ‘Once your coat is on, what comes next?’ to lead them to zip it up.
We were encouraged to use similar approaches when interacting with the children there that we are working with. It was challenging at times when you see one of the kids struggling with their shoes or with putting something away, but it was neat to see that if you give them a bit more time and encouragement, they will succeed in doing exactly what they are intending to do.
The school focuses all its teaching on useful life skills. One of the classes spent the day purchasing the ingredients they needed to prepare Causa de pollo (a chicken-vegetable stir-fry) and preparing the meal themselves. They learned about money while at the market, and math when they were adding up the cost of all the ingredients. They then practiced peeling, chopping, slicing, setting the table and cleaning when they got back to the school. The intention is to provide the kids with the skills they need to be independent and productive, and as a result of those, happy.
Once again – another fascinating day in Peru.