By Kathryn Petersen, a member of the SkillCorps Dominican Republic February 2016 team

One of the main things that we worked on at Aprendo this trip was creating a centers routine for their morning clients. Karla and Lia, the center directors, have expressed interest in making their center more reminiscent of a school. In the morning, there are about 5 different preschool-aged clients that come throughout the week. There are either 3 or 4 there on any given morning. We created a centers routine with 4 different centers for the children to rotate through. We made visual schedules for each child to help them understand the rotation schedule and check in to each center. The different center activities included puzzles, ball toys, pegs, etc.

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The first day that we implemented the centers, all the kids were crying because they didn’t understand the routine and had a difficult time giving up toys at the end of the time period. Aside from circle time, they have never worked next to one another. I could tell that the staff was stressed and I was worried that they may have been questioning the process. But by Friday, the children were learning the routine, able to transition fluidly, and nobody cried during the routine! The therapists were so excited about the centers and we discussed ideas for the future for how they can continue to build on this new program. It was so great to watch the progress within the week that centers were implemented. I loved seeing the children progress and learn the routine, but even more, I loved watching the therapists get excited and offer their suggestions to personalize the centers for Aprendo!

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