Teaching the Wisdom of Our Elders Preschool
Xnaq'tz Nab'l Q'chman
Building a better Cajola through quality education
Inspired by the world renowned preschools of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, our preschool is rooted in the Maya Mam culture and emphasizes the development of critical thinking and collaborative work based on the children's interests and provocations set by the teachers. Children learn through investigation and experimentation with each other as well as with the teachers.
The school grew out of the need to care for the children of the women working in our women's businesses and our work to recuperate the Mam culture. We opened in May 2012 with 2 teachers, 1 cook, and 8 students between the ages of 2 and 6. For the 2014 school year, we have 4 teachers, 1 cook, and 34 children between the ages of 2 and 6!
Read more about us on National Geographic's Blog
Education is the responsibility of the school, the parents, and the community. Developing strong parent relationships and a presence in the community is important to us. We see that the biggest impact we have is on the parents!
During the required regular meetings with the parents the teachers help them understand their role in education, how to play with their children at home, good nutrition and health habits. The parents have developed confidence in the teachers and bring their questions and doubts on nearly any subject to them!
Children are the Protagonists of their Own Learning
By observing and documenting the children’s interests the teachers can provide activities and stimulation that uses those interests to construct the competencies the children need to develop. The teachers and children collaborate with each other in developing these competencies.
Nutritious food, vitamins, and de worming are a part our strategies to address Cajola's daunting 66% chronic malnutrition. The children have a nutritious snack and hot lunch each day, and vitamins each morning. They are weighed and measured regularly to track their progress, and given de worming medication as appropriate. In addition, the teachers work with the parents to educate them about good nutrition so that they can do their best with their resources to provide nutritious meals to their families.
Being rooted in the Mam culture means that the children are learning in their maternal language, and are practicing Mam spirituality. This has been eye-opening to many of their parents, who have begun to re engage with their own identities. The children also learn Spanish, important for living in a multilingual country.
We've published children's books in the Mam language to fill the gap we found in the world! Check them out here!
Watch if you want to smile.