We’ve been having great success with our pre-school class; we have more children attending with a full class of 30 every morning. Not only that, classroom behaviour has improved immensely; the children sit down of their own accord, they’ve learned how to share and realize there are enough toys and games for everyone.
They’ve also made a huge leap in the amount of phrases and basic words they’ve learned. With the help of songs they have learned a lot of words already. We always start our day with a song, which teaches them to say “how are you?” and “I am fine”, already. Since we are repeating the words “sit down” a lot, they now understand this phrase and remain in their seat. The phrase they probably know the best is “clean up”, because it’s the beginning of the time outside the classroom where they can play free with all kind of games. I think in this time they learn a lot by themselves, because they help each other and learn from each other. Meanwhile team spirit and the sense of community has become a really important thing. That means that we achieved one of our goals with the preschool class, which is nice sign.
Our way of teaching has changed a little bit. We are now teaching them by topic. They recognize parts of the body with the use of songs, flashcards, videos, drawings etc. In the same way they recognize animals, fruits and vegetables, family members, transportation and items of clothing. We also really try to work on stimulating all five senses with the children to maximize their learning experience. Since we have wifi, we try to use a short video clip once a week to vary the way of teaching and to keep their attention. We figured that this is a really good way to keep focus and to encourage their creativity. We also emphasize repetition of topics, we go back over key vocabulary and concepts every couple of days to solidify their knowledge. We are convinced this is the best way to remember things for a longer time and hopefully forever.
They’ve also become more creative. During the first pre-school lessons they didn’t know how to work with their paper and a crayon in their hand. They just waited for an idea or tried to cheat on their neighbour’s paper. But now they seem to be really excited to put their pocket full of ideas into real art. Some of them turned out to be artists, it’s really impressive!
We have our success stories but we definitely also have some struggles to work on, mostly with the development of individual children. It’s difficult to keep the momentum of a class going when one child has ideas of his own. But we work on this daily and figured out some rules, so that most of them behave really well now, even if they were difficult in the beginning. For example, a month ago we had a new student join us and she was terrified, wouldn’t enter the school without her mother by her side and wouldn’t let her leave. Fast forward a few weeks and she comes to school all by herself, joins in the activities and even speaks to us quite confidently. In this way, every student is adorable and an important part of the whole class.
The last 20 minutes of class we always play with different things in the outside area. These activities include playing with blocks, being active with balls or ropes and for the older ones playing with jigsaws. Last week we figured out that the kids love to do a ‘conga-line’ through the school or just running around in a circle while singing ‘Ring-a-ring-a-Rosie’. This “game” always ends up with us lying on the floor, which might be the most entertaining thing for these toddlers, even though nobody of us understands why.
We feel we are doing something right since most of these children are waiting at the gate 30 minutes before class. This makes us all proud and confident with what we are doing at the moment. We feel we really know how to work with this age so we’ve also started to write our own curriculum. Hopefully it will be ready soon to be a good guide for the next volunteers in the future.