The following story is based on letters received from Tūtū and Me participants, and is typical of the impact the program is making on familiesNāinoa is a three year-old who attends the Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool program in the community he resides in on the island of Kaua‘i. When Nāinoa was 20-months old, he was placed in the care of his grandparents, Millie and John. His grandparents, who were recently retired, wanted the best for their grandson, but they felt inadequate to take on the parenting role again, felt anxiety in every decision, and feared for his future.
One day, a neighbor told Millie about the twice weekly Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool program at the Anahola Clubhouse. They decided to visit to see what it was about. They were amazed from the very first day. They saw very young children participating in the routine of the program, and their social skills were admirable. They were impressed by the richness of the activities, the variety of teaching materials, the inclusion of music and Hawaiian language, and the warm aloha expressed to them by the teaching staff and other families.
Millie and John have continued to take Nāinoa to Tūtū and Me every Monday and Wednesday and at every meeting they learn something new about his development and what they can do to support and nurture his growth, both at Tūtū and Me, and at home. For example, one of Nāinoa’s favorite centers is the water table. At first, Millie and John thought that there was no educational value in playing with water, but they learned from Aunty Kēhau, one of the teachers, that when Nāinoa pours the water from container to container he is learning about volume and capacity. He is also developing the small muscles in his hands that are necessary for writing, as well as eye-hand coordination that is necessary for both reading and writing. When Millie and John went home, they put containers in the bathtub when they gave Nāinoa a bath, and let him fill and pour water into the containers. They counted with him as he scooped the water and talked about the different sizes of the containers.
All three of them – Millie, John and Nāinoa look forward to Tūtū and Me days. They made wonderful friends, and also participate in fieldtrips to places they had never been before, such as the Waipā Foundation, where they learned about taro and had the opportunity to pound taro to make poi, and walk in a taro patch. Millie and John both feel a strong bond with Nāinoa as they interact with him and participate in the activities together.
Millie writes, “I am writing to let you know how important Tūtū and Me is for my grandson. He has developed social skills at the program, also, he is getting ready for kindergarten. He has some problems with speech, which was detected at Tūtū and Me and the program sent out a referral for services at Easter Seals. The Tūtū and Me curriculum allows us a good start on the general education of Nāinoa. It is something we could not have provided for him alone. The support of the teachers has been invaluable. Attending Tūtū and Me helped us become aware of Nāinoa’s development and how to enrich his life. We now feel supported in our effort to do the best for our grandson. We have hope that he will have a good future.”