Monday, January 28, 2008

The 104th good thing about Lagos: Efforts to organize and beautify our environment start small

Today I had the 3rd day of a 4-day stint subbing for the pre-K teacher at the American school. I had subbed for her before and enjoyed the experience, and I'm still having a lot of fun with these 4-5 year-olds. But I'm glad that I had a weekend to rest after the first 2 days. I have come home pretty worn out each day. The class is a very international one -- around 20 students from Nigeria and the US, as well as several Asian countries, Israel, other African countries and European countries. The children all have quite a good facility with English. I was amazed by one girl who recently arrived from Holland. She talked my ear off as we were waiting for her transport home and she said she speaks Dutch at home.

The children have a very rigid routine and a song for every activity -- and they correct me each time I start to do something that's not quite the "way it's done." (My 3 (!!) teaching assistants are also a big help.) It's taken me a while to figure it all out and maybe on my last day tomorrow I'll remember to pick out the names for the "busy bees" (helpers) with my bare hand while buzzing the bee attached to the glove I'm wearing on my other hand. These things are obviously very important. One favorite: before the children go outside for recess they have "hand cream time." The children stand in their circle with hands out while the "hand cream helper" busy bee goes around and gives them each a dollop of hand cream (it's a cute tradition, but it would make a bit more sense to me if they used sunscreen instead of just hand lotion). After everyone has their dollop of lotion, the "hand cream helper" says "Hello friends -- it's hand cream time!" Then we all sing together "rub a dub the hand cream" -- onto our cheeks and our nose and so on. The song ends with a deep sniff of the sweet smelling cream. Then we sing our "boys and girls go out to play..." song and then the line leader touches each child on the head when it's their turn to get in line. The whole day is like this with routines for each scheduled activity. My favorite is before our snack (lunch) time when the "snack table organizer" busy bee lays out individualized place mats and little wicker bouquets of silk flowers on each table. Something about those little tilting baskets of flowers on each table really makes me smile. I think it's a good thing in this country where so much is undependable and chaotic and not working and dirty, that these children can come to school and things are done a certain way and cleaned up before we go on to a new activity and we make a point to beautify our table before we sit down to eat.


Lindsay said...

I think that's so darling that they have a song for everything. I'm impressed with how organized they are!

Erin said...

I, myself, am discovering more and more how well children do with consistent routines. My children are always better behaved when they know what to expect. It's on those off days that your little grand-daughter is lucky I don't put her on craigslist.