Empowering Teachers for Fun-Filled Learning
If you were to visit G.S. Kabiza and look into pre-primary Teacher Solange’s classroom, you’d see a class full of bright young learners, actively engaged and wide-eyed at all they’re discovering. Children learn hands-on as they point to their body parts while all singing “head, shoulders, knees, and toes”, or as they sit in a circle, rolling a ball made of a rice sack to each other and taking turns sharing their favourite fruit with the class. Learning and laughter fill the air as Solange confidently leads her class. Her class is a place of fun-filled learning.
You’d never guess that Solange hasn’t been trained as a teacher, let alone equipped to lead a class of 70 nursery students. In fact, her secondary school background is in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science—not engaging and educating a class of squirmy toddlers to lay the crucial learning foundation they need to go forward in their schooling!
Reaching & Teaching The Youngest Learners
Earlier in 2021, over 20,000 new early childhood education (ECE) teachers were hired to support the government’s efforts to ease overcrowded classrooms and ensure access to pre-primary education for the youngest learners. Solange was one of the 300 newly-recruited teachers based in Rubavu District. And, like most of those teachers, she had no teaching experience. “After being appointed as a teacher in pre-primary, I was scared, unconfident, confused, and not aware of what to do in regard to teaching and handling kids’ behaviour.”
As the classroom leader, she did all she could to hold students’ attention and keep herself from frustration and discouragement. Teaching the curriculum was challenging, and so was engaging students in any kind of learning. She found herself and her students growing tired and weary of school. She even noticed that some students had stopped returning to class as a result. How could she teach her students if she didn’t know how?
Making Learning Come Alive Through Play
Despite the challenges, Teacher Solange was determined. However, it wasn’t until she went through Wellspring’s training for pre-primary teachers that she was equipped to turn her determination into action.
During the Learning Through Play and Teaching Aids modules, Solange began building both her teaching toolkit and her confidence. She learned that the answer to her teaching strife was found in one four-letter word: PLAY.
“Before the training, teaching pre-primary children was very difficult for me. During Wellspring’s training, I learned that young children learn better through play. I also learned what and how to teach young children using relevant play, songs, and teaching aids”.
Solange started understanding that learning can be fun-filled. As a result, she made learning come alive for her students.
Let the Pre-Primary Fun Begin!
Instead of growing tired of figuring out how to reach and teach her pre-primary classroom, Teacher Solange now knows how to create a friendly learning environment for her students to thrive, all by incorporating play! She learned that teaching and learning can—and should—be fun!
“The training has helped me to create a friendly learning environment, make and use relevant teaching aids made from locally available materials, plan relevant lessons that are coherent and consistent to the syllabus, teach the appropriate values and relevant cross-cutting issues, and be a role model to my students through my words and actions”.
As Teacher Solange began to make learning come alive, students began to love both their teacher and education. Students who had stopped coming to class started to return and get excited about school again. No longer does Solange grow tired of teaching. Instead, she looks forward to making learning come alive for her students through active and engaging play-based activities. Her class is defined by fun-filled learning.
As we continue our work in Early Childhood Education, we’re excited to see pre-primary teachers like Solange continue improving as they gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to embrace the job of laying the learning foundation for pre-primary students. The future is bright for teachers and students alike!