Two years ago, as soon as we moved in to our government housing unit, my wife and I decided to start a preschool program in our new neighborhood. Allyn is a tenured public school teacher with specialization in early childhood education while I used to serve as a college instructor, then a guidance counselor to some of the big universities in Cebu City. As a couple, we have always had this sort of unspoken dream of starting a small school, for very young children, driven perhaps by the fact that we’ve felt the joy of bringing up our very own child in the person of our firstborn, Ayenne Samuelle, who we consider a great blessing in our lives.
We tested the waters in the summer of 2015, and we opened our home to mainly art and reading tutees, mostly from people we know. We could vividly remember our neighbors, bringing in their young children, for just 2 weeks of fun learning during the summer vacation. We thought it would end just like that.
About a month before the start of June 2015 classes, my wife, as if in a spontaneous manner, went to apply for a business permit for childcare/tutorial services. There was no serious talk between us, and she just asked me what to call the school we never had, and I said, “Have it registered as Kids are Blessings House of Learning.” I named the then nonexistent school that way because I thought “Aren’t we all agreeing that kids are our greatest blessings?”
Everything went very smoothly. As if by a storm, because the house was new and we’ve just finished building a canopy and fence in our garage, unmindfully, we started painting our walls to look like a kiddie school and bought several items that would, well, work as furniture to a small school. Everything was organic. We then bought books, designed a uniform, planned a curriculum, created a routine of songs, videos, and activities. The toys we bought were no longer just for our kids, it was for other kids as well. But we had a problem. We don’t have kids.
We wanted to go low profile, so we didn’t have large tarpaulins for advertisement. What did we do? We knocked on neighbor’s doors to give out flyers, practically selling ourselves and our vision, our passion and experiences to convince young parents to enroll their kids to us. Friends who knew us personally referred people, and in that same month, we had 18 kids to educate in 45 sq. m. floor area (garage and living area taken together.) Everything started from there. Our business registration licenses were completed, including a tax certificate. That was probably the most difficult part because we were not business people so to speak. We only wanted to help a child one at a time.
Time went by really fast. I went full-time preschool teacher while babysitting my own two year old son. My smart 3rd grader daughter became our front-line. She was winning competitions one after the other, and it was easy for her to make friends with children her age who also became part of our after-school tutorial program. This is what we were able to do as a family, in God’s grace. Before we knew it, it was graduation of March 2016, and we recognized the first batch of 14 families who were able to finish the program.
On second consideration, I believe God may have designed us for this. Our evenings became filled with brainstorming sessions on what the best art projects we would have our kids do. We did curriculum planning and revised them. We tried them first with our kids if they were effective or not. We read books and equipped ourselves with experiences that led us to incorporate music, sports, yoga, and other helpful activities for the kids.
So to speak, as we are already about to finish our 2nd year, this small family, in a small space, have made it possible to touch about 35 preschool kids, and perhaps more than 50 elementary grade pupils to enjoy and benefit from a program that was only born, a while ago, from the innermost depths of our heart.
Have you ever had a time in your life when there is something you so wanted to do and all you had was your burning desire, yourself, and your faith in the Almighty to make it become a reality?
We now have two years (perhaps more if we count our teaching days in the employed sector) of proven methods and results to see what a home-style learning environment can do to transform young lives. It is amazing, for example, how speech-challenged kids overcome their limitations, how hyperactive children learn to cope and find personal strategies, and how families discover their unlimited potential with the help of a small school. Just a small school meant so much and made a lot of difference to more people.
Our pain and next challenge: how do we make this learning experience available to more children and families? We need a bigger space to house our children, and our goal is to achieve more enrollees so we could support full-tuition scholar children from disadvantaged families.
We NEED a facility, somewhere more accessible and strategic to reach out to more people.
It is at this moment, that we ask you, friends, relatives, friends of friends, and people with the same passion to help us realize this dream. Before, our personal finances and loans were able to support a small school, but a bigger plan entails more stakeholders who share the same love for children and passion for teaching.
If you find it in your heart, please donate to this cause. We are trying to raise at least P200,000 which we will use to rent out and develop a property that will serve as new location before June 2018.
Help us get more people get involved. Contact us through our facebook page Kids Are Blessings House of Learning, through email ([email protected]) or 09175861103. If this succeeds, we’ll be happy to share with you this experience and be blessed as well on how many kids have been blessed by simple dream: to bless a child one day at a time.
Thank you and God bless you.
Nonie and Allyn