The dreary rain presented a special challenge today. Lack of outside playtime made the children restless, but they adapted beautifully. Their sunny smiles and cries of, Madame! Madame!” lifted my spirits as we began the day. We breezed through a review of the past two days and they impressed me with how much they had learned and remembered.
My favorite moment was our read-aloud time with Horton Hears Who. Twenty-five little bodies pressed in around me and listened attentively as I read this touching story about loyalty and kindness. I felt dozens of hands stroking my hair, patting my back, and gently caressing my arms as I read. When old “Aunty Janet” struggled to get up off the floor at the end of the story, a rush of little helpers assisted me.
When we attempted our guided reading of Put Me in the Zoo, I was delighted to see more and more children eager to show me what they could read on their own. Some, like shy Rebecca, could only manage the title. Others, like the aptly named Success, could read full pages of text with only a few miscues. Even those who are least experienced gave it a brave try and smiled brightly when I praised their efforts.
How I wish I could bottle their enthusiasm for learning and bring it back to the U.S!
One of the many things I noticed that was very different from the classes in the states is that the children here listen better and follow directions. I guess it’s because of their culture and how they’re taught, but it’s absolutely amazing how they have so much more respect for you. They love to answer questions (when they can understand you) and have the biggest smiles on their faces all the time. They always stand up to answer you and call you madam if they don’t know your name (unless you’re a guy, so…) and they love to help you. Whenever I would put chairs back at tables or something, they would always run (literally run) to me to help me. One time one of the little girls came rushing over to pull a table from me when I was putting chairs back into the classroom. It was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. They even help us get supplies off the bus if we have to unload anything. They are all very eager to help in anyway possible (unlike many people I know back home).
Another thing I noticed was how much they actually want to learn. Normally you see and hear kids complaining on how they absolutely HAVE to go to school, but these kids couldn’t be more opposite. The smiles on their faces were just so bright when they realized that they were able to use the supplies we gave them on the first day again on the second day. When they were told to go outside to play, some of the students would stay in the classroom & continue working on what they were working on in class. Everyday when we get to the village, they are always playing on the playground waiting for us to get there, and when we do get there, they always run to the bus and wait for us to get off. They always have the biggest smiles on their faces (as I’ve probably said like 3 times already), and literally have to be told to get off of the porch and out of the classrooms until we have everything set up. Overall, the cultural differences on how our future generation is taught are very unalike, but both are just as effective.
Today was our third day teaching at the school. I, along with three other students, was at the Primary school with classes 4 and 5. The kids are absolutely wonderful and full of energy. They are the higher classes, and so they are really good at reading. Monday and yesterday were pretty smooth, but today they had to learn about the zoo and the different animals in the zoo.
First, we read a chant called, “The Zoo Chant” and it talked about a handful of animals that are normally at a zoo. My class even did hand gestures that represented the animals. The kids had a bunch of fun with that. Next, we went to art and drew animals and glued them to a paper “zoo” and made sun catchers in the shapes of animals. I loved seeing the kids use their imaginations to create pink monkeys and purple elephants. After painting, I read, Horton Hears a Who to them and they got to read Go, Dog. Go! in groups. Even though some of the animals that they heard don’t live in Africa, they still loved learning about them and where they come from and what they do. I hope that after today, they will be eager to learn more about different animals.
All in all, it was great teaching them about animals and I cant wait to teach them for the last two days.