Positive early learning experiences are key to all children developing well.
At our Children’s Village we operate two programmes: a nursery school for children between three and six years old, and a ‘baby class’ for children from birth to three. These ages are flexible – if we take in a child who has never learned to recognise numbers or letters we may keep them in the nursery class for longer to give them a good chance of succeeding at primary school.
Our nursery school is run by Madam Tumaini, a qualified early years teacher. At present there are seven children in her class ranging from four to eight years of age. The teaching is predominantly in English with some Swahili stories and rhymes. Basic arithmetic, reading and writing are important, as are physical exercise, nature walks, painting and singing. The day often starts with a rousing but not always tuneful rendition of the Tanzanian national anthem, Mungu ibariki Afrika (God bless Africa). The children are in school from 8 am to 11:30 am, followed by lunch and then a long nap in the heat of the day.
Mama Haruma is in charge of the baby class. We now have eleven babies in this class, so Mamas Zailatu and Martha also help out too. Six of these babies are Malaika Kids, and five come in from outside our Village. The parents of these five pay us a small fee which enables us to partly cover the costs of running the class.
There is a lot of playing here! The children love to play simple games and act out repetitive rhymes. ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ is a favourite, as you can see in the video and ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ is also much appreciated, especially when Simba (the lion) comes to visit and roars at all the other animals.
Two weeks ago, our youngest ever Malaika Kid joined us. While she is technically in the baby class she is still so young that she spends most of the time in the care of a single Mama. This baby girl was found by a stranger in an underpass in Dar es Salaam. She was only a few hours old and her natural mother, almost certainly a terrified young teenager, could not be identified. After a few days in hospital the Welfare Department asked us to look after her. She will be with us for the next eighteen years or more and we will do our very best to support her in every way possible. If you would like to support this young baby girl and others like her, please donate.