Parents say their kids are smarter, more sociable and more eager to learn. That’s after going through a new free program called “Keiki Steps.” It’s geared towards native Hawaiians, but anyone can sign up. Parents or grandparents bring their children to three-hour sessions, and stick around to help in the teaching process.
There are interesting activities, like tracing the alphabet with shaving cream, and more normal lessons like reading and singing.
“It’s really hands-on. We have stations where the kids can work in,” said Shirleen Oili, Keiki Steps grandma. “They get to feel with their hands and make things, and paint and color and get dirty. And so they learn the touch, the feel and the doing more than the book.
“When I grow up, I want to be a painter like my dad,” said Halena Naia Kaneshiro, Keiki Steps keiki. “I like to draw and paint.”
There is an actual teacher, but having their guardians there calms the children down and gets them excited to learn. And while they’re there, the adults lean on one another.
“If we’re not doing something that we feel, as a mom, sometimes it’s hard to know how to teach a child or how to help them behave or socialize,” said Roth Chu, Keiki Steps mom. “But you get some ideas from some of the other parents and the teachers.”
“The feedback we’ve gotten from families on Keiki Steps and Keiki Steps for kindergarten is that the program has helped their child be more prepared and ready to enter kindergarten,” said Lisa Pakele, Keiki Steps program director.
The program runs Monday through Thursday. Fridays are usually for field trips, and they make use of every second. Lunch is a lesson in itself.
“So like last month, we had a Hawaiian theme. I taught them how to make lau laus and we had a luncheon after that with all the Hawaiian food,” said Pakele. “Then next time it might be a Japanese theme. So they learn all.”