I am an alumnus of The Learning Haven. When adults ask me where I go to school and I tell them “at The Learning Haven”, a blank stare, “come again?” or “where’s that?” are common reactions. The school is located in the middle of Barangay (Bo.) Kapitolyo in Pasig City. Mommy’s friend Tita Jayjay recommended the school to her and her son Kyle became one of my best friends.

Teacher Joanne Jesena established the Learning Haven seven years ago. She used to teach in Xavier School and her belief that “… each child is a genius to be discovered” propelled her to propagate Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP). DAP apply programs to fit the age and individual needs of each child in a class.

I was two and a half years old when I enrolled in her toddlers summer programs. I used to cry a lot during school presentations, and over 3 years, I managed to be a narrator in our school play. My self-confidence significantly improved. She is a discipline coach and her focus is that one’s essence is perfect. As babies, all the positive attributes are present and somehow, we were ‘degeniusized’ (check my mom’s blog entry “Born Genius”).

My mom recently attended a seminar she conducted entitled “Teaching Reading at Home”. She informed the attendees that there are a lot of reading strategies. The ‘traditional’ style is phonetic, where words are read by the sound of the letters, but the retention is not that effective as reading by context. reading2.jpgAn interesting thing she said was that children learn first the letters of their name because it is the most significant to them. As they thirst for more, their awareness extends to their immediate family and classmates’ names. Labeling ordinary items in the house works best. When they look at these objects, they get to ‘sight read’ and the association of the name to the object is well established. To develop children’s writing skills, she advices that then be given various writing instruments and different paper textures they can experiment with. When they write on paper, the adults should not be tempted to ask “What is that?” Young children may not be ready to explain their scribbles in a logical manner and this may stifle their self-expression. Now my brother Xavy can doodle to his heart’s content. She also discussed about the seven steps of spelling continuum from “Early Readers and Writers” (yes, even spelling has stages) namely: 1) scribbling; 2) letter-like forms; 3) one-letter spelling; 4) letter strings; 5) invented spelling; 6) transitional spelling; and 7) conventional. This seminar is only one of her numerous offerings to support the parents. One of her much sought after sessions is “Stress Free Discipline Strategy”.

My most memorable field trips were in Museo Pambata, Planetarium, Air Ads, Avilon Zoo, and the touching outreach in Gawad Kalinga in Baseco. I will miss Teacher Jo, as I will go to a big school by June. However, the values she has imparted to me will remain. Teacher Jo’s dream is that there is a “Learning Haven in every community”. She has dedicated herself to this teaching approach and this passion gave birth to a branch in Taguig. With her dedication and commitment, it will not be far-fetched.

For inquiries on seminars, enrollment and class schedules contact Joanne Jesena at 636-0658 or visit The Learning Haven-Pasig at 64 San Rafael St. Bo. Kapitolyo, or The Learning Haven-Taguig at Lake View Arcade, Bagong Calsada, Ususan, Taguig.