Tag Archives: school

Preschool News

The last month has been an exciting one at our school.  I have been working directly with the preschool teachers to make some BIG changes in their classrooms.

The Kenyan schools are on a year round school system. The school year is January-December. There are 3 one month breaks. Each break is about 3-4 weeks long. We had our first break in April.

The first week after the closing of school the teachers have scheming week. They come and do their planning for the next term.  Andrew and I met with the teachers that week and did a lot of training with them for our big changes.  We came up with an overall theme with all the points we are wanting to address in the next year. Here is the outline of the things we want to cover.

Changing the Fundamental Dynamics of the Classroom

1. Classroom Structure (Layout and Schedule)

2. Behavior Management

3. Teaching Methods

4. Communication

5. Assessment

We actually only made it through point 2 in our outline, but the rest of the things will come with time.

We spent the first two days of scheming week doing training on numbers 1 and 2 from above.  How to create a system in the classroom with discipline and positive reinforcement, and how that affects every moment the teacher has with the students. We talked about setting high expectations for the students, and how the students can meet those expectations. How to set up a classroom that is appealing for the students and having a schedule that is age appropriate for the kids from morning until afternoon.

We introduced sticker charts. We put up classroom rules and consequences in each room.  We completely changed their daily schedule. The lessons used to be an hour long and we shortened them to no longer than 30 minutes.  There are labels on everything in the classrooms now. The desks have been rearranged into groups instead of facing forward. We introduced circle time each morning. And the most exciting is that we started centers each day. We bought a lot of toys for the classes and the kids get 45 minutes each day to play. Puzzles, play-doh, crayons, cars, manipulatives, blocks, building materials, books, and even more. The kids are LOVING it!

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The whole scheming week was spent preparing the teachers for how to make these changes. They worked hard completely clearing their classes to make room for the new materials. We put nametags on each students desk. We made backpack hangers for more organization. The teachers organized for the outside wall to be painted. I cannot tell you how impressed and proud of these teachers I am. They have never had any training before on how to teach this way. I know that they are stepping WAY out of their comfort zones by making these changes.

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The way these preschool classes were before we did this training was much different. The students were all in their desks while listening to the standard lecture teaching method. I’m not saying this is wrong; it’s the way most Kenyan schools are running. And these are 3-5 year olds. We are not trying to Americanize these classes, but just make changes to better suit their ages. It is extremely hard for a 3 year old to sit in a desk for even 5 minutes, much less 8 hours!

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School started on Tuesday this past week. We have been using our new schedule and materials for 4 days now. I could not be happier. There are definitely some challenges we are facing that will take some time, but overall things are going awesome!  The teachers are happy and the kids are beside themselves with excitement.

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Filed under By Abby

Tunajifunza Kiswahili

As you all know, one of Andrew and I’s main priorities right now is learning Swahili.  I feel like we talk about it a lot, but no one back in America really knows how it is going……

So this post is to update you on how we are progressing in our Swahili classes. 

(My school books)

P1070886When we first got here, I felt completely overwhelmed with my Swahili class (which makes sense when you are surrounded by a language you know nothing about).  But now, a quick 3 months later, I can understand and speak short sentences with people! It is an amazing feeling!

Now, I am still a beginner.  Very much so.  But I am learning quicker than I thought I would, and I am loving it.  I have such a desire to be able to speak Swahili fluently, because it would make life so much easier—in the market, with the kids, basically everywhere!

                                                                                                            (Andrew’s school books)

P1070889Andrew and I have joined the Swahili classes at Mt. Kenya Baptist (the primary school that we are living at).  I am in Standard 1 and he is in Standard 2.  We go to class with the kids every day, do homework, and even take tests!

I have found that I can be a big distraction to the kids.  They have mostly gotten used to me being a part of their class, but they still love to turn around and check if I am following along, or if I know what the answers are (which I am getting much better at). 

At the end of each month the students have exams for their classes.  Below is our first Swahili test from January.  I got a 75% on mine.  I was disappointed, but it is still passing!  Andrew got an 83%.  Here they are:

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P1070883  (Andrew’s test)

Not bad for our first tests…….right???

Here are some examples of the work we do in class and on our own. The first ones are mine.

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Now, Andrew’s work……….

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So, being the end of the March, the kids have been prepping for their exams tomorrow and Friday.  We had a practice test today in my class.

It was HARD! 

As I was taking it, I felt very discouraged. When I handed it in to my teacher, she then informed me that it is way above the 1st grade level, and that I did much better than my classmates.  Ha!

Why is a Standard 1 class taking it then!?  I guess that is why it is a practice test.  I don’t feel so discouraged anymore.   🙂

Here are my results:

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See all the words written in red? That’s not a good thing.

Lol, I’ll do better next time!

Kwa Heri!

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Filed under By Abby