When someone says the word “preschool,” you might think of drop-off centers, where dozens of children are offloaded to bustling classrooms with strictly scheduled snack times, naps and play. Such an image couldn’t be farther from reality with Partners in Development Foundation’s Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool.

Since 2002, the Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool program has helped families across the Hawaiian Islands prepare their keiki for school success. It’s a program for children up to 5 years old, and requires parents and caregivers to attend with their keiki. Tūtū and Me equips caregivers with knowledge and resources, and provides opportunities to actively participate in a multi-generational set of activities with their keiki.

“The Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool was created specifically to meet the early education needs of Hawaiian extended and multi-generational families,” says Jan E. Hanohano Dill, the president and founder of Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF). He illustrates how in families such as these, the kūpuna, or elders, are usually tasked with the care of younger children.

This presence and influence of elders on young children is vitally important, but often, kūpuna may not be prepared to fulfill the needs of young keiki. Through its two-generational approach, Tūtū and Me imparts the skill sets necessary to guide early childhood development. Each Tūtū learns techniques that help develop their grandchild’s cognitive, motor and executive skills.

“I’m grateful for Tūtū and Me because it’s a good curriculum,” says Yvonne Martinez, a Tūtū at the Pāhoa site in East Hawai‘i Island. “It’s a balance of art and science, we celebrate birthdays and they have a lot of singing, and it teaches the children to all get along together. It’s good diversity. It’s an extraordinarily wonderful program.”

Over the years, Tūtū and Me has worked with thousands of families, equipping kūpuna to be a child’s first and best teacher. This model has also been applied at over 100 YMCAs on the mainland and even overseas in the East African country of Tanzania, serving as the basis for the First Teacher Group initiative of global development organization Project Concern International (PCI).

Jessica Samura and her ‘ohana were part of Tūtū and Me for the last four years. She says that the traveling preschool program has helped both her kids with their confidence, social skills and preschool skills. Jessica also describes the opportunities she had to meet with other parents and grandparents as highlights of the program. She says the adults are able to discuss, share with and advise one another on early childhood parenting life.

TŪTŪ and ME TRAVELING PRESCHOOL (501(c) 3 nonprofit)
A Program of Partners in Development Foundation — Hawai‘i
2040 Bachelot St.
Honolulu HI 96817
808-595-2752 | www.pidf.org | www.facebook.com/PIDFoundation