After 8 months working as the program director for Little Dolphins, I reflect on how this new program has developed with feelings of joy and appreciation for what we've all learned. The Little Dolphin after school program was created in order to help the NIS working families cope with the demands of their schedules and to ensure their children were well-looked after in the hours following the regular school day. While it provides parents with peace of mind, it has, in my opinion, provided children with much more than a place to stay after school. These few hours, between 3 and 6 pm, provide our Little Dolphins with some much precious unstructured playtime with their peers, a place to connect with others, as well as explore and create.
In the beginning, the children were not sure what to do in the space or how to interact with each other. It took some time for trust and relationships to develop but little by little, our room became a space the children look forward to coming to after school and connect with their friends. Newcomers are happily welcomed into this child-created space as they bring new ideas and new ways of playing.
We never know what will happen at Little Dolphins, some days we play outside the entire time, other days we stay inside and perfect our paper plane techniques. Some days older children show younger ones how to draw manga characters or make complicate marble runs, and sometimes we’re a bit tired and want to watch a cartoon (though this happens less and less). It has become a place where cardboard boxes act as houses, child-made bird feeders hang from trees outside our window, and colorful drawings decorating our walls and whiteboards. Little Dolphins go with the flow and the adults listen to what the children need and want to do. There is no schedule, no preplanned activities, only invitations and suggestions.
As you can see from the quotes below, the students really love Little Dolphins! And we are always happy to welcome more friends to our club!