Tuesdays usually go something like this: Wake up at 7am, eat breakfast at 8am, leave at 8:30am for a crche to do a brain gym, then off to find another crche or two to deliver supplies at or meet with teachers to arrange for a course, brain gym, or upgrade. It is usually time to head back to Aphiwe for lunchtime bible class by then, so off we go. We normally get back home around 2:30/3pm, and have a few hours in the afternoon to catch up on work around the house, sort Sunday school materials into files (tons and tons), do laundry, plan crche course lessons, do bible study for sisters class, et cetera. Somewhere between all that, someone cooks dinner, we eat quickly, and then are off to evening bible class. Once class is over we have dropped off about 15-20 of the normally 40+ attendees at their various homes. Normally they walk and hour or more just to come to bible class - even the little ones. We arrive back home around 9:30pm. By that time we are relatively tuckered out, but usually we all have a cup of coffee and trouble shoot about the next days tasks/adventures. Well, that is kind of how today went. Except, we did it Leona style.
Leona told me at 8am that we were leaving at 8:15 that morning, since we needed to stop by and pick up caps and gowns from Aphiwe on our way to the crche we were doing brain gym at. We were going to try and squeeze in a photo session during the time I taught brain gym. So we arrive, on time actually, and I dive in to my lesson, while Leona starts wrangling children into smiling for the camera. There were about 30 kids during that first session I taught. Yes, I said first. I didn't realize I had another group afterwards. Sooooooo, after Leona was done with her group, we switched. She took the 5-6 year olds and I acquired the 3-4 year olds. Now, the brain gym lesson is specifically geared towards 5-6 year olds so they are better prepared for first grade. I had to quickly figure out how to occupy twenty 3-4 year olds all by myself with the help of one teacher who barely spoke English. My Afrikaans (the other main language, besides English, of South Africa) is improving, but it was difficult to say the least. Thankfully it turned out well, and without any major catastrophes. Only one bumped head, and two time outs. Now, I suppose you are wondering what brain gym entails. I will try to explain.
Brain gym is an exercise that is meant to help children learn how to be creative, and to teach them through concrete, tangible methods. Usually children are taught by rote memorization. Brain gym is also meant to get the kids moving. Hence the name brain gym. Every month the exercises change to address a certain area of learning in a child's brain. Last month it was about crossing your midline. This month it is about word association, and shape/color distinction.
Some of the exercises I did with the children this morning included a shape and color game were they had to find the shape on their card and match it with the shape on a large piece of paper placed somewhere in the room. The cards were different colored so the children had to understand they were matching the color, just the shape. Then we flip the exercise around and find the color, not the shape. Another exercise we do is a simple obstacle course. As they go through it, I have the children repeat the words Over, Down, Backwards, Under, and ÒrunÓ, so they learn to associate the actions with the English words. Grade R is when the children are really taught English well, so this is very important. It also teaches the children things like balance, control of their body, and simply how to play. There are other exercises we do, but this blog is already way too long and I still have to finish out our day!
So, we finished the photos and brain gym, then Leona messaged another lady asking if we could swing by her crche and do a quick brain gym lesson there as well. Yes, another one. More kids. My voice was basically gone. I gained a new respect for teachers today. As you can imagine, I was hoping there would be a smaller group of 20 or less, but when we got there and I peeked into the classroom only to see about 45 pairs of eyes staring back at me, did I realize what I had to accomplish in 30 minutes. I had the most fun with this group of kiddies though. The obstacle course was a blast, the color game was chaos but a lot of fun, and we ended with a song. Nothing is sweeter than hearing 45 little voices singing.
Next, we were off to Yolanda's to check of the progress of the build project going on. Yolanda has a safe house for orphans. Recently we have been blessed to be able to offer her more house space in the form of containers, so her personal house does not have to be so crowded, and so she can take in more children. We were supposed to be meeting Yolanda to take her to the material shop to buy curtain and bed cover material, but she had been called into town on some business to finalize a child's paperwork.. Bible class was wonderful. Most of the time we open it up to questions, and the questions occupy the entire hour. Today we had questions about the celebration of birthdays, Christmas, and what God says about anger and how to control it. We even went over-time today! I love these bible classes, and the others during the week. I always come away having learned so much, and feeling so energized about God. I am starting to see how much I am being changed when I originally thought I was coming here to be doing the changing in other peoples lives. I just wish everyone could have this kind of an experience.
Let me get back to the schedule. So, we arrived back home around 2:30pm, and I had a few projects to finish this afternoon. I managed to get two out of four done, which is actually pretty good. It helped that I stayed home from the next photo session, since Llewellyn could go take the photos, and so I could prepare a document needed tonight. I also was able to sort some Sunday school papers!! My goal is to have them all sorted and filed before I leave in 3 weeks. I still am having a hard time believing I have been here for 6 weeks. Time flies.
Kaitlin Ross (USA)