New Preschool Students Before Uniform Disbursement
The St. Vincent’s school year starts in early January, after a long Christmas holiday which begins in mid-November. Having such a long period away, returning children look forward to coming back to our preschool where they will receive daily meals and opportunities to learn and play.
The beginning of the year also sees the addition of new children to our baby class. After home visits and a rigorous interview process to identify the most vulnerable and needy children in Kibera, St. Vincent’s must make difficult decisions about which children to admit to our preschool. Each year, we receive about 100 applicants for the 25 available slots in our baby class. As in years past, St. Vincent’s selected 28 children for this year’s incoming class due to the overwhelming number of children in need and seeking our services in Kibera.
The newly admitted children are always impressive and a spectacular lot to interact with when they are still new. Coming from very challenging backgrounds whereby most basic needs are not affordable and sanitation facilities are unavailable, it is very interesting and impressive to watch and experience how the young ones learn their new school environment and adapt quickly. Their first few days are always hectic and confusion runs throughout the day. The kids have to be toilet trained from scratch since most of them have never used modern toilets before. They also have to be trained to sit still in class, as well as be taught the basic table etiquette (as they do not have tables in their homes). It doesn’t take long before the new kids catch up with the rest of our children though. After just two weeks in school, an average visitor may not be able to differentiate between the newly admitted children with the rest other than with their obviously tiny body size.
It is a very warm feeling to see the gleam in the children’s eyes when given their first ever school uniform. They won’t even let their peers touch them with the fear that they may either make them dirty or crease them. Another spectacle to watch from the new children is the enthusiasm they show when participating in co curriculum activities like outdoor games, nursery rhymes and watching cartoons. Considering that for most, if not all, the children this is their first time being exposed to this kind of learning and play, hence they always put their best effort in performing them.
As the Head Teacher of the preschool, it is very rewarding to get feedback from the parents concerning the development of their children. It does not only tell us what we are doing well, but where we can also improve as our major aim is to see the children grow holistically. For the short period that the kids have been with us this year, we have received plenty of positive feedback that gives us strength to continue. It is also fulfilling to encounter and be part of immediate transformation of a child from one stage to the next.