Hana hou! This is my 10th year with my 4th grandchild at Tūtū and Me. Another grandson was born recently, so I hope to be with the program for another few years! I have written many letters in support of the Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool and I hope each is fresh with other insights from my moʻopuna and my personal experiences.
Why Participate?I believe that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I still appreciate the metaphor of the village and know that raising children is more than a job for parents alone. A qualification that I would add to this, however, centers on values that the ‘village’ supports. As the media is full of international strife and threat that comes from many forces, I worry and I am concerned for our children and the future generations. We will have to work hard to practice character values and teach keiki to understand, practice and internalize these values.
Each month, Tūtū and Me focuses on a Hawaiian value that touches on the individual and the community. I am listing them to show the scope of caring.Malama I Ke Kai: Caring for the OceanAloha: LoveMalama I Ka Aina: Caring for the LandKuleana: ResponsibilityHo’omaika’i: GratitudeLokomaika’i: Graciousness, kindness, generosityKokua: HelpingLaulima: Many hands working togetherHa’aha’a: HumblenessLokahi: Harmony, UnityPono: RighteousnessPo’okela: Striving for Excellence
Over the years, I have seen the program, staff and teachers work for continuous improvement in teaching methods/instruction, assessment, communication networking, team building, and generally meeting the needs of keiki in preparation for preschool or kindergarten.
Staff development is integral to the program. Team building is supported as the teachers need to be able to work cooperatively to best meet the needs of the many keiki and caregivers who attend the program. Teams visit other teams, including the ones on the neighbor islands, to learn new strategies and assess and develop ways to better utilize materials, space and personnel. Recently, a simple rearrangement for circle time was made to better utilize the space we had to work with. This arrangement took thought and consideration to reconfigure people and teachers. It worked!
Over the years I have noted several improvements that have been made to promote efficiency, accountability, communication about expectations, creativity in the different skills learning centers, and a level of professionalism that does not compromise the warmth and love each teacher projects to keiki and their caregivers.
On a personal level, my oldest grandchild is in the 4th grade. He is part of a longitudinal study on those who attended Tūtū and Me. (Currently, we have a two and a half year old grandson attending who has the same positive feelings about the program). My grandchildren’s earliest experiences with ‘school’ was Tūtū and Me. They loved going, they loved the fun, the other keiki, the music and dancing, the different themes, the learning centers, the field trips and they LOVED the teachers.
All of my children love to read! The habit of reading and having books a part of their environment has been a key factor for their love of school. The two-sided coin shows that they love school and are successful because of reading and/or they love reading and are successful in school. I believe so much in the program that I find myself constantly recruiting other parents or caregivers that I meet at the park or other gatherings. I would have to say that I am the unofficial Tūtū and Me ambassador!
Why Support?Research continues to show the connection between preschool and early education programs and success in school. However, debates continue within the legislature about how tax payers will support early childhood education. Meanwhile our keiki must depend on us adults to pay for preschool or other early childhood education. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in Tūtū and Me and similar programs. We know this all takes money from federal and state grants, foundations, and other financial resources. The investment we must make in our keiki to develop to the fullest rests with us adults.
Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool, a program of Partners in Development Foundation, works because of their many efforts to seek grants and financial support. This testimony is one of the ways we can support efforts for continued support from our legislature and from grant sources. Please continue supporting the program and helping to make a positive difference for keiki and their future.
“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” -Neal Maxwell
Mahalo for our blessings of Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool, Partners in Development Foundation and all of the individuals who make it happen.