A squash and a squeeze

Today we arrived at the school just after 8am again and went straight into Day Care to see what was going on. So far there were 15 children in with 1 teacher. Most of the children were sat down at empty tables, others on the mattresses on the floor. After about 10 minutes the teacher began getting some toys out for the children. This involved throwing a few handfuls of duplo blocks onto the mattresses and stacking rings. She also got out some empty bottles and gave the children  something to put inside. This included small wooden sticks and pom-poms. However, out of the 6 children sat at the table, only 3 were given them as there were just not enough. The teacher praised them when they completed this task however encouraged them to do it quickly and then took them away, passing them onto children who were yet to have a turn. More children started arriving into class and this continued for the next half an hour. The room became very warm and cramped, totalling up to 4 adults including ourselves and 43 children! (some of which were very distressed). In England, the children’s play rooms are measured by square foot and this results in how many children we can legally take within that space, in Kenya, the same rule does not apply. The Kenyan government allow the school to have 45 children just in the Day Care! We also observed that the children aren’t settled into the room the same way that they are back at Yellow Dot. Often, they are pulled away from their Mothers, sat down on the floor, laid on a bed or given food. Throughout the morning it became clear that there was nothing similar to our Key Person system we have in place back at Nursery.
Today one of our focuses was lunch time. After seeing the transition over the last couple of days we felt this was something important that we wanted to adapt. We went and collected more chairs to ensure every child in Day Care could eat their lunch sat at the table, ensuring no one was eating on a bed or a mattress. We started setting up the room and moving tables to which the teachers began helping. We explained what it was that we would like to do and they happily moved the mattresses out the way and helped to organise chairs and tables. The children all went and collected their lunch and came back to the Day Care which was already set up for them and straight away were all able to find a chair to sit on. The meal time was much calmer and the children were all happy and comfortable. In England we have to stay in ratio throughout the whole day even over lunch times, however this is not the case in Kenya, at 1 o’clock it is the staff’s lunch time at regardless if the children are still eating, sleeping, inside or outside they are left unattended.

Today we also had a look at the Early Childhood Development (ECD) document which is Kenya’s equivalent of our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) back in England. The expectations of the children are very basic in comparison to the EYFS and the learning outcomes are very simple. This week we will be looking at how the teachers record each child’s development and how they are providing opportunities to achieve these learning outcomes.

After reflecting on our day, one thing we are keen to implement which we have discussed with James and Alice this afternoon is free flow play in the Day Care. We feel that having both the inside and outside environment for the children to choose from will benefit them and create a calmer, happier and more stimulating environment and also less chaotic with up to 45 children in one space! Also, one of our focuses will be the activities and resources the children are engaging in as there seems to be very little. For the rest of the week we will be looking at what resources they have and how they can use these in different ways but also identifying whether they are in need of anything new and perhaps some ideas and strategies.

It has just started raining here in Kenya with lots of thunder and very, very grey skies – which is nice and cool for us!  We hope the weather is nicer for school tomorrow! Goodnight 🙂