An eye opener day

Today we arrived at school just after 8am and the children were already in their classes working hard. We wanted to see how the day started and also, arriving earlier was much cooler for us! First we visited Day Care where the children are aged 1-4 years old. To begin with, there were 20 children but when we visited again later, 15 more had arrived. The teachers were singing alphabet and number songs. They stood behind desks whilst the teacher was at the front of the class. During one of the songs some of the children were given a musical instrument however some were not as there were not enough. Those who didn’t were encouraged to clap. Although the songs seemed quite upbeat and enjoyable they were very repeptitive.
We then moved onto to visit Pre-primary 1 where the children are 4-5 years old. There were 15 children in. Yesterday we had a brief look at their timetable and first thing in the morning they carry out a health check so we were curious to see what this entailed. To our suprise, this was singing all different songs about their bodies and families. After the health check, lessons begin. The teacher starts by annoucning the day of the week, the date and discussing what the weather was like. There was alot of noise coming from the other classroom (both pre-primary 1 and 2 are in the same iron shack, only separeted by a thin layer of iron). We sat at the back of the classroom, near to some of the children sat at their desks and we found it really difficult to hear the teacher. The lesson taking place was called ‘Language Act’. The children were learning about the ‘i’ and ‘e’ words. There were posters diaplayed around the classroom which had different pictures and sounds on them. The teacher used these during the lesson to demonstrated different ‘i’ and ‘e’ words. Again, this process was very repetitive which didnt give an understanding of each indivudual childs knowledge or ability. After reflecting on our time observing the lessons, we felt that perhaps the class were seen as a whole group rather than each child being seen as an individual which is something we embrace back at Yellow Dot.
We then spent the rest of our day back in Day Care. There seemed to be not much of a routine in place and the first thing we noticed was that there were not many resources out for the children. There were 7 children sitting around one table sharing a very small amount of duplo blocks and alot of other children were spread about the room, some sleeping and others not really doing much and not really engaged in anything. Another 8 children were sat round another table; only 2 of them using books and pencils to draw and colour. When asking the teacher what the children were doing in their books, she explained that the younger children just scribble however the older children are developing the muscles for writing for when they move up to Pre-primary 1. All of a sudden it was snack time! It became very chaotic very quickly with no annoucement or transition. The teachers began handing out snacks to some of the children and others were left to get their own or wait for their older siblings to bring it to them. A few children, in particular, were sat for a long time with no snack until we asked the teacher where their snack was. The teacher found a bag on the floor by the door, explaining it was theirs and gave them each a flask of tea with a donut. This is something we saw a few times during our day today and we felt as if the children lacked confidence or understanding in asking their teachers for support. After snack, the children are encouraged to play oustide until 11am. Some children stayed inside as they were sleeping; some on beds and others on mattresses on the floor. During play time, the teachers go to the staff room and have a cup of tea which means both the children inside and out are left to occupy themselves, unsupervised. After play time when we went back into Day Care there was only 1 teacher with 35 children aged 1-4. She encouraged them all to sit, whether this be on a mattress or at a table. No activities took place and the children were encouraged to occupy themselves using the sensory pouches, sensory bottles and duplo scattered around the room. We then decided to encourage the children and their teacher over and taught them some new songs. These included Tiny Tim and Shakey Shakey. The children seemed really engaged and after repeating the songs two or three times were joinging in with actions and some words. When finished, we then encouraged the teacher to do some singing with them too. During this, the second teacher arrived back into Day Care and began singing numbers songs whilst pointing to numbers chalked on the blackboard, encouraging the children to copy whilst stood behind desks. Lunch time soon arrived and there seemed to be a long waiting time where more children fell asleep and others became impatient. They all washed their hands and wait in a line until everyone is ready. Whilst they went to the kitchen area to collect their lunch (which was rice and beans today) we took it upon ourselves to set up the tables and chairs to ensure it was ready when they came back. However there were not enough chairs. With 35 children present, we only had 19 chairs. This meant the other 16 ate on mattresses on the floor or beds. After lunch is play time for an hour and then 2-3.30pm is sleep/rest time and then home time.
It has been nice for us to get to know the teachers and see how they work with the children. We are also able to ask questions during the day to ensure that we understand their way of teaching. Tomorrow we look forward to arriving early again to see the quality of teaching and maybe catch some of the parents along the way.