From the Archives of 2012:
“There are currently two pre-school classes (ages 8 months to 1.5 years and 1.5 years to 3 years) and two Kindergarten classes (ages 3 years to 8 years) on-site. The teaching style is based on the Montessori-philosophy of child-directed learning. This means that the teacher follows the child’s interest and pace through the engagement of self-correcting, independent activities. School curriculum uses culturally appropriate, independent activities that are organised into Montessori’s Five Sections of the Classroom: Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, and Culture and Science. Each child is free to move from one activity to another based upon their interests. The teacher’s role is to observe and guide.
This “new” approach to early childhood education is an important departure from more strict teaching methods commonly seen in over-crowded classrooms. This method has ultimately been more effective in this rural setting for a number of reasons. First, this methodology has been proven effective in high volume classrooms and little resources. This means that in most Kindergarten classrooms in the village, books, furniture, desks, and shelving are all anomalies. About 90% of the on-site classroom activities and materials are hand-crafted by teachers, setting the example that one doesn’t need money to teach. All that is needed is a little ingenuity, resourcefulness, and dedication to the job at hand. Second, the independent activity approach to teaching means that students can work together in small groups that are overseen and guided by the teacher. No longer is one teacher attempting to control and gain the attention of 100 five year olds (a common ratio in village classrooms).
Finally, a classic Montessori classroom contains children of a wide age range- as do classrooms in the village. The child-directed philosophy allows each child the freedom to move at their own pace, regardless of the level of their fellow peers. Teachers then have the freedom to provide more advanced students with harder and harder activities to prepare them for Primary School, while younger children can refine their motor skills and practice culturally appropriate skills they can use at home! The vulnerable youth at the Children’s Village thrive under the structure and routine that the classroom provides. They are allowed freedom to explore and engage their interests with tangible, reinforced limits. This, as well as the individualised attention, means that development is monitored more closely than ever and troubled behaviour can be addressed quickly. Teachers are able to work closely with guardians to reinforce discipline and send cohesive messages to the children. Also, the teachers are very familiar with the children and the medical problems each child may face so they can give them the best care and report any changes in health status quickly and efficiently. It is the hope of FoxesNGO to one day be able to provide on-site schooling for all children who face medical problems that might prevent them from thriving in local schools.”
Starting in February of 2016, the Pre-Kindergarten Program opened its doors to welcome its first classes of students. After almost three years of constant fundraising, the Nursery School finally opened! In 2017, we have seen incredible growth in this program! The Caterpillars (ages 1 year to 2 years) and the Butterflies (2 years to 3 years) each have their own classroom space within the On-site Kindergarten Compound. The classrooms were painted with murals from local Tinga Tinga artist, Chasaki, the floors covered in mats for crawling little ones, and the shelves stocked with donated toys and games. Monday through Saturday, all children 3 and under from the Children’s Village attend school, eat nutritious meals, and nap peacefully in their cozy new classrooms. The Caterpillar Classroom currently has 10 children. The Butterfly Classroom has 27 children. The Nursery (3 mths to 9 mths) has 10 children. It was the first time that the Pre-K program had their own individual classroom space which allowed the teachers more freedom in play with their children. The goal of these classrooms was to create a natural progression between classrooms as the children age and move through the program, their educational foundation will grow stronger. Definitely the cutest place in Mufindi!
The Kindergarten classroom currently has 26 pupils, ages 3 to 6 years. The focus of the classroom for the year was to introduce more English into the curriculum, deepen each child’s understanding of peaceful conflict resolution, and push for more literacy in the classroom. Professionally trained TEFL-certified instructors were brought into the Kindergarten classroom to help strengthen the English of the teachers, as well as introduce storybooks as a medium to teach English to young children. Each day, Mrs. Julia Ostler, held “storytime” with the Kindergarten students which often included English songs and games, which our teachers were able to teach to partner schools in the project area.
Running parallel to the on-site Interactive Learning Kindergarten is the Early Childhood Education Outreach program which saw great achievements this year as well. Seminars continued across 9 partner Kindergarten classrooms each month with new topics and ideas shared among teachers. In order to expand the program, meetings were held with both Ward Education Officers and District Education Officers to explain the ECE program, share our successes, and invite them to observe the classroom in action. In a November 2016 meeting, they were all so impressed, the District officials proclaimed that our program should be implemented across all three wards in our project area (16 villages) and promised to support our initiative across all primary schools. They were particularly impressed with the peaceful conflict resolution tactics used in the classroom in place of corporeal punishment, as well as how engaged our pupils are in the class work.
#10yearsofservice #10daysofaction #10years10days #FCWCT
Our goal is to secure monthly sponsors for each of the 10 projects we are highlighting over this 10 day countdown to our #10yearanniversary!
$25 (£20) per month to our Early Childhood Education Program will go to support the monthly seminars of our Early Childhood Education teachers who come together once per month to learn new teaching methodologies, classroom management techniques, songs and games, as well as to share their challenges and exchange ideas to solve problems.
Click on the links below of here at Ammado and become monthly sponsors!