There are always challenges in working with children, but they are welcome!
After the close family circle, the preschool teacher is the first unknown person a child encounters in his most sensitive period of life. With the support of the prrschool teacher, children acquire basic social and motor skills and begin developing their emotional and cognitive intelligence. That is why the role of preschool teahers is of great importance for the future of our society. As Ana Surla, the preschool teacher at our School of Life in Ljukovo, explains, “the job of a preschool teachers involves four elements of love: care, responsibility, respect and bond.”
Ever since she was achild, Ana was interest in the profession of a preschool teacher. Her mom is a preschool teacher too, so she passed on the beauty of working with children to Anna. As of 2016, she is a part of the Bosko Buha Preschool in Indjija, where, as she says, “has the opportunity to collaborate with her many cooleagues and learn from their experience.”
In the village of Ljukovo near Indjija, until recently, only one quarter of children aged 3 to 5.5 had the opportunity to go to preschool, due to lack of space in the facilities. However, at the end of February, the Novak Djokovic Foundation opened its 13th School of Life, providing 60 additional places for children from this area. With our support, preschool teacher Ana and her colleagues create a supportive environment for children from this village to play, learn and grow together.
1. What inspires you in your daily work with children?
I belong to a generation that grew up with grandparents, so I attended a some sort of a kindergarten program for a year before going to school. I remember my teacher as a very gentle, smiling, cheerful and understanding person. And even today I keep the memories from that period – drawings, photographs and various other work.
However, my fondest memory is the envelope that my teacher, Stefica, personally made for my birthday, filled with birthday wishes from my preschool friends.
I often open it and think about that period with joy. That memory inspires me to create the same moments for my children in preschool, that they will remember all their lives too.
2. How important is the opening of the School of Life in the village of Ljukovo for you?
The opening of the School of Life in the village of Ljukovo is of utmost importance for all of us, as this program offers quality preschool education to children from rural areas, and thus increases the coverage of children involved in the educational system.
Through this program, as a teacher, I will certainly strengthen myself, and thanks to the monitoring program provided by CIP – Center for Interactive Pedagogy, strengthen my competences. Preschool teachers’ competencies are very important, because while working with children, they influence their overall development.
On this journey, while children learn and explore, we as adults have a guiding role.
3. The School of Life in Ljukovo is not just a preschool – it is a community of parents, children, educators and other actors in the field of early development. What are you giving and what are you receiving from this community?
I think we offer each other an open partnership. That way, we all nurture and get to know our strengths and learn from each other. It’s a good model and method. Children are a central place around which we all build a strong relationship of trust, tolerance and flexibility.
4. Children are innocent beings full of imagination, and with a pure heart. We can often learn a lot from them and their way of looking at the world around us. What do your children in preschool teach you?
For me, children are an eternal inspiration. They teach me on a daily basis the spontaneity, trust, truth and certainly the love that they selflessly give and receive.
5. How important is the role of a preschool teacher in child development in Serbia? Do you think our society appreciates and recognizes it?
After the close family circle, the preschool teacher is the first unknown person a child encounters in his most sensitive period of life. The job of a preschool teacher involves four elements of love: care, responsibility, respect and bond.
I think everyone involved in pre-school education in Serbia recognize the importance of early development. There is an increasing number of children in kindergartens. Also there are quality seminars, trainings, and discussions for educators that can contribute to strengthening their professional competences.
There are always challenges in working with children, but they are welcome! Through them we learn and strengthen, and sometimes we get to know ourselves better.
When working with children, it is very important that when a preschool teacher is faced with any kind of challenge, he/she knows that there is someone to turn to, ask for advice, or sometimes just to complain to somebody.
There are many colleagues in our institution who are always ready to help us face the challenges. Also, we receive selfless support from the preschool professional service as well as the administration itself. Now also, through the School of Life program, we receive support from the Novak Djokovic Foundation, as well as from our colleagues from the CIP-Center for Interactive Pedagogy.
6. What is School of Life in one word?
From everything I have seen so far, from the experience I already carry and the feeling that this program gives to me and my children, I think that the right word would be right now – home.