70 small children in a relatively tiny space, running around and chanting ‘teacher, teacher, teacher’ while you walk in, then attaching themselves limpet like to your leg is a fairly overwhelming experience; but for the volunteers at Nceduluntu nursery it is a typical morning greeting.
Once you have made your way through the sea of small children and morning porridge is served, something like order appears and you get the chance to high five every child at each table numerous times and congratulate them for the accomplishment of clearing their bowls. The happy faces that turn to you as you as you walk into the room and the enthusiasm with which you are met never fails to let you know that this is going to be a pretty good day.
Once you have finished clearing up and getting hands washed – never under estimate the time that these seemingly simple tasks can take – lessons can get underway. Singing the ‘one by one’ song to prepare your class for the fact that it is now lesson time, you lead the way to the classroom to begin literacy.
And so the day begins….
Five jam packed hours later, it’s time for reflection, lesson planning and the end of day project meeting. Now you get the opportunity to discuss how your day has gone with the other volunteers and the project coordinator – a great chance to highlight any great moments or concerns that you might have. While the knowledge of the day is fresh in your mind, you plan for tomorrow’s lessons while the children hammer on the door, demanding your further attention. It’s almost impossible to deny them and so, ten minutes before pick-up time, most volunteers can be found in the play area singing ‘ring a ring of roses’, ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ or having their hair braided. It’s a tiring day but as you drive away looking back and waving to the children climbing like monkeys at the entrance, you know that you will be full of energy and ready to go the next morning.
Melanie Welfare – Teaching & Nceduluntu Coordinator