First day in the kindergarten
3. March 2019
On Wednesday the 16th of January was our first day of work in the kindergarten project. There are two teachers and currently three volunteers (including Yara and me) working there. The kindergarten is supposed to start at 8 o’clock but we already arrived there at half to eight, as many kids come there rather early. Once all kids were there we went into the playroom. There the Madams first introduced us to the kids and then started dancing and singing together.
After about thirty minutes of dancing and singing the kids got separated into two classrooms and the lessons could start. There are about 30 kids in total, one class with the older kids who are about five to six years old and one class with kids aged three to four. Yara and I are both in the class with the older kids for now. On our first day the kids learned how to write the letter “a” and how to say the English greeting “good afternoon”. At about 11am the kids had a break where they ate porridge and little snacks. At about 12pm the school was finished for the day and the kids went home or got picked up. As clocks don’t really exist here we had to wait for about one hour until all the kids were picked up and on their way home.
Now, seven weeks later, I can say that every day in the kindergarten is somehow different than the day before. The kids learn how to write the numbers and letters and we teach them things like the colors or different greetings in English. There’s also a timetable – that the teachers don’t really use – that says that the kids also have classes in health and science. We’ve had health class about three times since we’ve been there but didn’t have a single science class so far.
Also every Thursday is play day in the Day Care, where we go outside and play soccer, jump ropes and other games with the kids and after eating porridge have a sleeping break before the children go home. And every Friday the school ends earlier at 11am.
While we were just watching the Madams teaching in the beginning, we now often teach the kids ourselves. Whether it’s English, Math or Kiswahili, when the Madams don’t want to teach it’s our turn to find something to teach. There were also some days where we were left alone with the kids for a whole day. Whether it’s because of sickness of one of the Madams or because they missed their bus on the way back from a weekend trip, showing up to work on a daily basis doesn’t seem to be that important. Therefore we learned pretty fast how to entertain and watch thirty kids, while they all go crazy and don’t seem to be listening to us, even if that means singing and dancing to the same songs over and over again.
In general I can say that the way of teaching and the school system here is completely different compared to the German system. What was probably the most shocking for me is the way and with what ease the teachers use a stick to punish the children when they’ve done something wrong. I know it’s part of their culture here but it still hurts seeing that they get hit e.g. on the hand for e.g. not doing their homework. It seems to me that the teachers sometimes use any excuse possible to hit the kids, even when they did nothing wrong or were just a little louder than usual.
Summed up I can say that I love working in the kindergarten and I’m super excited for what the next months have in store for us! There are some challenges – like the language barrier – but you learn how to deal with them every day and as time passes everything gets easier. The kids are all super nice and were very welcoming and quickly got used to us – even though our skin color scared some of them in the beginning! Also when you walk through the village nowadays it’s not that uncommon that you hear one of the kids screaming “Madame Finja” and running towards you to hug you, hold your hand or jump up on you to get carried around. I’m really glad that I got the chance to work in the kindergarten as a volunteer and have this – so far – amazing experience here!
See you soon, Finja