Despite this post being titled my daily life, every single day is different and it would be impossible to summarise the madness that goes on in this place in just one single blog post. With that being said, I’m going to try and explain what my ‘average’ day in pre-school looks like.
I arrive at 8am in the day room where the toddlers will spend their day and the rest of Bethany Home children shortly arrive. They then sing many songs in Xhosa and we’ve managed to pick up a few words but whether we’re actually saying the right thing is another question. It’s incredible to watch so many young voices come together with synchronised dancing.
After watching the dancing we then head to the pre-school where I will begin to teach or the other Mama will teach the class. I teach English and Maths to 4 to 6 year olds and you can imagine the challenges I am faced with everyday. Some of the younger children are still learning how to write their name properly so whilst the rest of the class are practicing adding, they have to spend the lesson coping out their name.
I teach for two hours before the kids have a snack. Usually a sandwich of some sort. They then practice singing their graduation song as 19 out of the 25 pre-school kids will be leaving in January and going to different homes as Bethany only looks after them til they are 6 years old. I’m dreading graduation on 23rd November as I’ve become so fond of the kids that I teach and I can’t imagine any of them leaving. I have no idea how I’m going to cope leaving next year. It’s going to be so hard.
After about an hour the children from the classroom (aged 3) come down to pre-school to do more dancing and singing. This time we get involved. Despite being laughed at by the kids and even some of the Mamas for our awful dance moves we were keen to keep going as after all practice makes perfect!
At around 12:30 lunch is served and all of the classroom and pre-school children go to the dining all for dinner. The babies and toddlers are fed in their rooms by the Mamas. The kids generally eat pap, potatoes, beans, vegetables and meat for lunch. I then wait til the kids have all ate and all of the tables and chairs have been put away before I can head off for lunch. I have my lunch break til 2:30pm as in this time all of the kids at Bethany have a nap so it is a perfect opportunity for us to take a break.
When I arrive back in the classroom the children are just getting up and it’s so nice to see their smiling faces when I walk in the room. When I come in the morning they sometimes chant my name and it’s one of the best feelings in the world. You know you’ve made a difference to their lives and it’s so nice to hear an indirect thank you from them. It encourages you to keep going through the hard times and keep trying to made your lessons as good as they can be.
The children aren’t taught in the afternoon so I’ve been filling in the 2 hours before my home time by teaching them games or hand clapping songs. I’ve taught them how to play splat, fruit salad and the key game, as well as teaching them how to do the Hokey Cokey, ‘A Sailor went to Sea Sea Sea’, 10 green bottles and Day is Done – most of them can pick up the words now and I’ll be teaching them even more games over the next few weeks. Throughout the day the kids sometimes break-out into singing ‘a sailor went to sea sea sea’ which was one of the very first things I taught them but now they know all the lyrics and they can sing it to each other. It’s so rewarding to see that your efforts have been paid off and that they can self manage a song with their friends.
At 5pm I get to go home and relax after a tiring day of working with children. They have so much energy and it’s sometimes really hard to have so much enthusiasm for a long period of time. I spend the evenings lesson planning for the next few days (all of my photocopying has to be done at lunchtime otherwise the room gets locked and I don’t have access to photocopy worksheets, so I have to be on the ball with planning). I may go to the gym with Chloe and Jess and most importantly if it’s my night to cook I’ll make dinner for me and Chloe. I’m really enjoying cooking here compared to what I did at home and I aim to be even better than what I am when I get home.
I hope that everyone is well back home. Let me know if you want to see any pictures of the kids and I’ll be happy to send you you some. I just can’t post them on here due to their safety. I’ll blog again as soon as I can.