On Monday I spent the whole day (two class sessions) in the youngest classroom.
To reiterate: Titagya Schools currently has four classrooms, two older ones both around the same age, 4-5 years old (although there are some bigger boys in the classes as well…perhaps a few 6+?), and two younger classrooms, 3-4 years old. The younger class taught by Madame Baraka is slightly more advanced than the class taught by Issah. Many of the children in Issah’s class are new to school, and some are even just two years old. A few of the boys are so small that their uniform shorts go down all the way to their ankles!
As you can imagine, trying to teach a bunch of 2-4 year olds numbers and letters can be a huge challenge, especially when their attention spans last…oh, about half a minute, tops.
Monday’s lessons dealt with simple instructions: come, go, run, and walk. Issah would say the word in English and the children would repeat; then he’d say the word in Dagbani and the children would repeat again, hopefully making the connection between the two languages. In reality, though, only one or two kids successfully understood that “come” in English meant “kamna” in Dagbani, and “go” in English meant “chama” in Dagbani. The rest…well, they were repeating the teacher for the sake of repeating. (Side note: it was adorable how some of the kids were repeating the words…for example, one boy kept saying “what” instead of “walk,” and another little guy would say “wop”)
They are such funny little kids, though. Before the morning’s lesson began, one girl lifted her feet into the air and announced that her parents had gotten her new shoes. And then almost everyone in the class did the same. When one boy asked to go outside and get water, everyone else decided they, too, were thirsty and must get water.
When Issah brought out three lollipops (intending to give them to the students who worked/responded the best), the children immediately perked up, and were so much louder when repeating the words. This, though, only lasted so long (and by that, I mean not long at all).
As they are small children, there is a fair amount of crying in the class as well, sometimes for no reason at all, other times because someone stole his/her toy or seat. I’d say a child cries at least once every half hour – even during the breaks!
There are some sleeping children, too. Madame Baraka told me before class started that since some of them are so young, the teachers just let them sleep, since it’s not as though they would really understand a lesson anyhow, which I guess is fair. In the middle of the second session, though, Issah had all the children go outside and jog a few laps around the building in order to pump them up and energize them.
All in all, it was an interesting and amusing day, and I left the class with so much more respect for the teacher. It must be very frustrating trying to teach lessons to 2-4 year olds who don’t pay attention, who cry, who fall asleep, or bicker with other students while the teacher is talking. I don’t know how much help I can be to this class, seeing as how all the instruction is done in Dagbani, but we will see how things follow in the next few weeks!