Each week, the pedagogical staff meets in order to discuss issues that arise based on the ongoing developments among the children in the kindergarten. It is during these meetings that we also explore which stories we would like to tell, and we choose the most appropriate ones. The teachers discuss the different options we have for telling the story, and then choose those that are most suitable for the specific situation and time available.
It is possible to tell the story in Arabic and to repeat the story afterwards in Hebrew, or vice versa, choosing a different language to begin with each day. What happens in this instance? The children that are listening to the story in the language that is not their mother tongue loose patience, and with time may develop a dislike for story time or for the other language! On the other hand, this may encourage the development of patience and tolerance. A different option is to translate each sentence or paragraph from one language to the other, and in the interest of equality, to alternate which language comes first. This option enables the child to wait patiently for the turn of his native language. He will quickly adapt to the situation, and will listen only when his own language is spoken. It is possible to tell the entire story in one language one day, and the same story in the other language - the next.
Yet another option is not to translate, but rather to alternate the telling of the story by using the two languages, with each paragraph in a different language. The use of non-verbal body language, hand movements, and sound effects all supplement the telling of the story and help the children seek the translation or meaning. It is also possible to translate key words in the story, while it is being told in the other language. Repetitive words, sentences or body movements all assist the children to understand the story or song. They are etched in their souls like music. We may also invite them to say the words together
As noted previously, the mood of the storyteller himself is also of great importance. Children of this age learn through imitation, including imitation of emotional states. Therefore, they will imitate the mood that we are in. It is best if we can enter the state of blessed serenity ourselves, and to this end it is possible and even advisable to be assisted by a few pleasant tones of a delicate musical instrument and a few deep, serene and quiet breaths. It is even possible to add a short and pleasant mantra such as “blessed quiet”, “I am within the blessed quiet”, etc. It is enough that we say this inwardly, and there is no need to speak them out loud to the children (although it doesn’t hurt.) In any case, the words are meant for us (the adults) and not for the children. The mood of the other teacher, who is not telling the story, is also important, as is that of every adult present, since we all represent models of imitation.
Sometimes, when I am listening to the story that is being told by one of the teachers, I choose to translate a certain word to the other language in a quiet voice, so that only the children next to me hear it. I think that this helps those who don’t understand the other language, and the children of both cultures understand from my behavior that I myself am listening carefully to the story - and they imitate me.
Aside from these experimentations and insights, I will conclude by saying that the search itself is a blessing, and also serves as a model to be imitated. This in itself is a good enough reason to set forth on this path, so that our children, too, will dare to seek their own way when the time comes - valiantly and with self- honesty. When I began my search I discovered that the presence of the Other, who is different from me, is a gift. It is a special, unique opportunity to become closer to the sublime and Godly, because my journey towards God passes through the eyes and hearts of my brothers and sisters, and through that of all humankind.
Thank you for reading,
Translation from Hebrew: Rachel Gottlieb
The Ein Bustan kindergarten is currently working on production of a CD of original children’s songs in Arabic and in Hebrew, which we hope will be on sale in 2011.All proceeds from the CD will go to support our activities for peace.
Maayan Babustan(Ein Bustan) POB 206, Kiryat Tivon 36011
Tel 972-53-4206133 Fax 972-4-9833688 firstname.lastname@example.org